Washington DC: The United States has declined to join an initiative by New Zealand that encourages tech companies and countries to curb online content of extremism. This pledge has come in the wake of the deadly terrorist attack took place in New Zealand city on March 15. The mass shooting on two mosques in New Zealand’s Christchurch left 51 people dead and many wounded.
The non-binding agreement namely ‘Christchurch Call’ was announced on Wednesday in Paris at a meeting of digital leaders of G7 nations. It has been signed by 18 leaders from around the globe, including British Prime Minister Theresa May and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, reported The Washington Post.
The White House said in a statement, “While the United States is not currently in a position to join the endorsement, we continue to support the overall goals reflected in the call. We will continue to engage governments, industry and civil society to counter terrorist content on the internet.”
The statement suggested that freedom of expression and freedom of the press were the reasons for declining the call. The statement added, “We encourage technology companies to enforce their terms of service and community standards that forbid the use of their platforms for terrorist purposes. We continue to be proactive in our efforts to counter terrorist content online while also continuing to respect freedom of expression and freedom of the press.”
The summit was co-organised by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron. CNN quoted Ardern as saying, “This call to action is not just about regulation, but instead about bringing companies to the table and saying, ‘You have a role too, and we have expectations from you’.”
Notably, social media giant Facebook has signed on to the agreement and introduced new rules for its live streaming feature in the aftermath of the Christchurch shooting incident.
The company has also announced that it will invest USD 7.5 million in a research partnership with universities that would study ways to improve the existing image and video analysis technology.
Fewer than 200 people watched the live stream during the attack, which Facebook said it removed 29 minutes after it began. But within 24 hours, users had attempted to re-upload the video onto Facebook more than 1.5 million times. More than a month after the shooting, its copies could still be found on major tech sites.
“When it came to the way this attack was specifically designed to be broadcast and to go viral, (responding) to that needed a global solution, so that was why we immediately got in contact with international counterparts,” said Ardern.
(With agency inputs)