U.S. Software Companies Back Effort to Combat Terrorism Online

U.S. software and digital content developers represented by the Software & Information Industry Association are backing the Christchurch Call, a government-industry partnership to combat terrorism, and the glorification of violent acts, online. 

"SIIA urges action to improve quick platform response time to terrorism in all of its manifestations, while also respecting freedom of expression and promoting narratives that counter violent extremism online," the groups said. 

The Christchurch Call effort was announced Wednesday (May 15) by New Zealand and France, marking the two-month anniversary of the March 15 Christchurch, New Zealand, terrorist attack that killed 51 and injured another half a hundred people, and which was live streamed to thousands of viewers. 

The "call" is to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online by securing commitments from governments and the tech sector.  

Governments signed on at press time did not include the Trump Administration, but did include Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Indonesia, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jordan, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Senegal, Spain, Sweden, and the UK, many of whom have suffered through their own mass terrorist attacks. 

Tech companies signing on include Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Twitter.

"Respect for freedom of expression is fundamental. However, no one has the right to create and share terrorist and violent extremist content online," New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron agreed in launching the initiative. 

They called on other countries and their tech sectors to get on board, and SIIA responded.  

“The Christchurch Call is an excellent initiative in taking action on the internet to both prevent terrorism and stop the glorification of terrorist acts," said SIIA President Jeff Joseph. "As SIIA has written, companies in this age of terrorism have take-down responsibilities; countervailing responsibilities to foster free speech and association; and, an affirmative responsibility to take steps to counter violent extremism. Today’s initiative shows that companies take these responsibilities seriously and are deepening cooperation with law enforcement authorities.  

SIIA board members include representatives from Google, Adobe and Intuit.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.