G20 leaders vow to protect citizens online

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Leaders of G20 states that gathered in Osaka, in Japan, for the past two days have vowed to ensure the online security of their country citizens. 

In a statement issued on Saturday, the leaders acknowledged that it is the respective state’s role to prevent and combat terrorism. 

“Here in Osaka, we reaffirm our commitment to act to protect our people from terrorist and VECT exploitation of the internet. We issue this statement to raise the bar of expectation for online platforms to do their part,” reads the statement. 

The G20 leaders also strongly reaffirmed their condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. 

“The livestreamed Christchurch terrorist attacks, and other recent atrocities, demonstrate the urgency with which we must fully implement relevant UN resolutions, the UN Global Counter Terrorism Strategy and other instruments, including the 2017 Hamburg G20 Leaders’ Statement on Countering Terrorism,” said the leaders. 

They said: “For us all to reap the rewards of digitalisation, we are committed to realising an open, free and secure internet. The internet must not be a safe haven for terrorists to recruit, incite or prepare terrorist acts”. 

They urged online platforms to adhere to the core principle, as affirmed in Hamburg, that the rule of law applies online as it does offline. 

They added that this must be achieved in a way that is consistent with national and international law, including human rights and fundamental freedoms such as freedom of expression and access to information -- they hold these in high regard. 

“We commit to collaborate with states, international organisations, industry, and civil society in this endeavour. We urge online platforms to meet our citizens' expectations that they must not allow use of their platforms to facilitate terrorism and VECT,” the leaders said. 

Platforms, they added, have an important responsibility to protect their users.  

“The complexity of the challenge -- and increasing sophistication of the criminals who would misuse the internet — does not lessen the importance of platforms mitigating the proliferation of terrorist and VECT content, which harms society, via their platforms.

“We urge online platforms to step up the ambition and pace of their efforts to prevent terrorist and VECT content from being streamed, uploaded, or re-uploaded. We strongly encourage a concerted effort to set out, implement and enforce terms of service to detect and prevent terrorist and VECT content from appearing on their platforms,” reads the statement. 

Amongst other measures, this may be achieved by developing technologies. Where terrorist content is uploaded or livestreamed, they underlined the importance of online platforms addressing it, in a timely manner, to prevent proliferation, while ensuring that documentary evidence is preserved. 

“We welcome online platforms’ commitment to provide regular and transparent public reporting, as set out in their policies and procedures,” they said.

“We note the ongoing work of the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT) to drive this important cross-industry agenda, including to respond to crises. However, further urgent action is needed. We encourage collaboration with industry, media outlets, researchers and civil society to strengthen GIFCT and expand its membership to be more inclusive.” 

They added that a strengthened GIFCT would enhance cross industry understanding, collaboration and the capability of big and small companies to prevent terrorist and VECT exploitation of their platforms.

“We commit to continue working together to tackle this challenge — including by sharing our domestic experiences — in our countries and through international fora and initiatives. Positive narratives to counter terrorist propaganda will continue to be an important element of this effort. We will remain engaged with industry progress and urge civil society, consumers and investors to do the same,” the statement reads. – SAnews.gov.za