It is a political call initiated by New Zealand Prime MinisterJacinda Ardern following the Christchurch mosque shootings of 15 March 2019 in which 50 Muslims were killed.
The mosque attacks were livestreamed on the internet for nearly 17 minutes and showed distressing footage of the gunman firing indiscriminately at men, women and children. It was also shared extensively on a variety of internet platforms and uploaded again nearly as fast as it could be taken down.
Thus, issued at a summit co-chaired by Ardern and President Emmanuel Macronof France, ‘Christchurch Call’ aims at stopping social media from being used to organize and promote terrorism.
It is signed by the 18 signatory countries and 5 major tech companies (Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter).
The US declined to issue the same terming it as antithetical to the American understanding of free expression.
To uphold the pledge, signatory nations will adopt and enforce laws that will ban objectionable material, and set guidelines on how traditional media can report acts of terrorism without amplifying them.
The companies agreed to accelerate research and information sharing with governments in the wake of recent terrorist attacks.
The pledge, however, is non-binding.
It would be up to each individual country and company to decide how it would honour its voluntary commitments.
The meeting was held alongside the “Tech for Humanity” meeting of Group of Seven digital ministers, and France’s separate “Tech for Good” summit.
The disagreement over the Christchurch Call highlighted a long-standing tension between Europe, which has traditionally shown a greater willingness to rein in and regulate Internet firms, and the United States, where companies are given broad leeway to police themselves.