Agency New Delhi: India joined France, New Zealand, Canada and several other countries on Wednesday in launching a major initiative in Paris to combat terrorism and extremism online and secure the internet. The initiative — ‘Christchurch call to action’ — was named after the New Zealand city where 51 people were killed in an attack on mosques, officials said. “A free, open and secure internet is a powerful tool by which to promote connectivity, enhance social inclusiveness and foster economic growth,” the declaration on Christchurch call to action said. It said the internet is, however, not immune from abuse by terrorist and violent extremist actors, and there was a need for collective efforts globally to secure the internet from terror groups. “This was tragically highlighted by the terrorist attacks of 15 March 2019 on the Muslim community of Christchurch terrorist attacks that were designed to go viral. “The dissemination of such content online has adverse impacts on the human rights of the victims, on our collective security and on people all over the world,” it said. The declaration said the Christchurch attack highlighted the urgent need for action and enhanced cooperation among the wide range of actors with influence over this issue, including governments, civil society, and online service providers, such as social media companies, to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online. The event to launch of the initiative was attended by several world leaders and high-ranking officials including from India, diplomatic sources said. The initiative outlines collective, voluntary commitments from governments and online service providers intended to address the issue of terrorist and violent extremist content online and to prevent the abuse of the internet. “All action on this issue must be consistent with principles of a free, open and secure internet, without compromising human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression. “It must also recognise the internet’s ability to act as a force for good, including by promoting innovation and economic development and fostering inclusive societies,” it said. The countries which were of the initiative expressed commitment to ensure effective enforcement of applicable laws that prohibit the production or dissemination of terrorist and violent extremist content, in a manner consistent with the rule of law and international human rights law, including freedom of expression, according to the declaration. It said they will also to counter the drivers of terrorism and violent extremism by strengthening the resilience and inclusiveness of their societies. Those who are part of the initiative will also encourage media outlets to apply ethical standards when depicting terrorist events online, to avoid amplifying terrorist and violent extremist content. They will also support frameworks, such as industry standards, to ensure that reporting on terrorist attacks does not amplify terrorist and violent extremist content, without prejudice to responsible coverage of terrorism and violent extremism.
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