Leaders of the Christchurch Call Community recently participated in the third Leaders’ Summit in New York, with the School of Law’s Cyber Threats Research Centre (CYTREC) represented by Dr Katy Vaughan, who is interim co-chair of the Call’s Advisory Network.

The Christchurch Call was created by French President Emmanuel Macron and Aotearoa New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in 2019, after the Christchurch attack, and aims to “to address the issue of terrorist and violent extremist content online”, whilst ensuring the promotion and protection of human rights and an open, free, and secure internet.

The Christchurch Call Advisory Network (CCAN) is the civil society arm of the Call. CCAN consists of not-for-profit organisations and individuals from civil society, academia, and the technical community. CCAN focuses on the protection of human rights, transparency, accountability, and reduction of online harm, and provides expert advice to the Call, consistent with international human rights law. This is where CYTREC’s and Dr Vaughan’s contribution is vital, as a key member and co-chair of the Advisory Network.

There were 8 state leaders present at this year’s Leaders’ Summit, including Aotearoa New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, French President Emmanuel Macron, King Abdullah II of Jordan, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who were accompanied by leaders from the tech industry including Meta, Amazon, Twitter, Microsoft, Google, Daily Motion and Mega.

The discussion at the Summit was frank and open with the world leaders calling on the tech companies to make more progress toward eliminating violent, terrorism-inspiring content, especially in light of a recent racially-motivated mass murder in Buffalo, which was inspired by online content and live-streamed on the Twitch platform.

The protection of democracies was also discussed with world leaders specifically citing the level of disinformation and threats to democracy arising from the tech companies’ lack of action in addressing threats in non-English languages. Privacy and the lack of access to algorithm data that influences the behaviour of users was also highlighted, with Prime Minister Ardern announcing a new initiative led by New Zealand, the US and Twitter to make data available for study. Other significant announcements included further funding for the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT) and Tech Against Terrorism in support of the further development of their Terrorist Content Analytics Platform (TCAP).

Speaking of Swansea’s involvement in the Christchurch Call and the Leaders’ Summit, Dr Katy Vaughan said:

“We are looking forward to continuing our work with the Advisory Network, as an important part of the multi-stakeholder Christchurch Call community, to address these critical issues. It is vital that terrorist and violent extremist content online is responded to in a manner that is consistent with the rule of law and international human rights law, in a way that meets the needs of impacted communities.”

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