ARTICLE 19’s response to the Christchurch Call to Action

Digital 2 min read
ARTICLE 19

Summary

ARTICLE 19 has responded to the Christchurch Call to Action to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online. Despite concerns about initial failures to include civil society sufficiently, we welcome the governments’ efforts to discuss civil society concerns and hope they will continue to listen and act on these concerns throughout this process.

Executive Director of ARTICLE 19 Thomas Hughes said:

The attacks in Christchurch were shocking and horrific, as was the subsequent sharing of the gunman’s live footage by social media users and media outlets. The rights of victims and their families should be respected, including through steps to prevent the sharing of films that may incite further violence. However, the proposals in the Christchurch Call to Action might have unintended consequences for freedom of expression and human rights, and prevent terrorists and other perpetrators of crimes from being held to account.

“The live video feature can be used for harm but it has also allowed the documentation of human rights abuses and enabled the prosecution of those who have committed crimes. It is also not clear how social media companies could prevent the uploading of terrorist material without the use of upload filters that would check content prior to it being broadcast”.

“The Christchurch Call proposals fail to define ‘terrorism’ and ‘violent extremism’, at a time when anti-terrorism laws are being abused by governments around the world – for example, to silence political opponents and the media in Russia and Turkey, or to target protesters and activists in the UK.

“We urge governments to listen to civil society’s concerns before handing further control of freedom of expression to private companies.”

You can read the joint civil society response to the Call here.

 

Contact

For further information, please contact Pam Cowburn, [email protected], 00 44 7749 785 932.

Notes to Editors

The Christchurch Call to Action has been created in response to the terrorist attack in Christchurch in March, 2019. New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has called for social media companies to act when terrorists use their platforms to share and promote their crimes.

The Call to Action outlines voluntary commitments that governments and social media platforms can sign up to. It will be published on May 15, 2019.