US to join New Zealand plan to fight online extremism | News | DW | 08.05.2021
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US to join New Zealand plan to fight online extremism

The Biden administration has said it will join a global campaign to make the internet a safer place. It comes two years after the previous Trump administration refused to sign up citing first amendment rules.

NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern has led the calls for tech companies to get tough on online hate speech and extremism.

The US is to join a New Zealand-backed campaign to stamp out violent extremism online, the White House said on Friday, two years after a gunman livestreamed the murder of 51 people at two mosques in Christchurch.

The initiative was started by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron in 2019.

But the Donald Trump administration declined to join at the time, citing freedom of speech concerns.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the United States would join the "Christchurch Call to Action to Eliminate Terrorist and Violent Extremist Content Online" in a statement late Friday.

The global accord is an unprecedented agreement between governments and all the major tech companies on how to make the internet safer.

Brenton Tarrant, the Christchurch killer, appeared in the dock last year.

Brenton Tarrant, a 29-year-old Australian, was convicted of the killings in August last year

'Significant priority' for US

"Countering the use of the internet by terrorists and violent extremists to radicalize and recruit is a significant priority for the United States," Psaki said in the statement.

"Joining the coalition of governments and companies that have endorsed the Christchurch Call to Action reinforces the need for collective action."

Ardern said on Saturday the US had been a "constructive, engaged partner on many Call-related issues since its launch" and the announcement was a "formalization of that relationship and a commitment for us to work even more closely".

The Call's work will be driven by the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT) — set up by Facebook, Twitter, Google (YouTube) and Microsoft in 2017 — which will become an independent body tasked with preventing and responding to terrorist andviolent extremism online.

It was initially signed at a Paris summit in May 2019 by 17 countries, the European Commission and eight online platforms.

Psaki insisted that any support for the initiative would not "violate the freedoms of speech and association protected by the First Amendment to the US Constitution."

A virtual summit is set to be held next week on May 14.

jf/aw (Reuters, AP)