Ex-New Zealand leader Ardern to tackle online extremism in new role
Sydney, Mar. 4 (EFE).- New Zealand’s former prime minister Jacinda Ardern will leave parliament this week to take up a position as the country’s special envoy for the Christchurch Call, an initiative to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online.
In announcing the appointment in a statement on Tuesday, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said Ardern had refused remuneration for the newly created position in which from Apr. 17 she will serve as New Zealand’s senior representative on Call-related matters, working closely with France.
Ardern and France’s President Emmanuel Macron launched the Christchurch Call two months after the March 2019 Christchurch mosque shootings in which a white supremacist killed 51 people and wounded 40.
Australian Brenton Tarrant livestreamed his massacre on social media and posted his manifesto online.
Ardern’s government enacted several initiatives in the wake of the attack, including reforms to gun laws and a Royal Commission of Inquiry, and the then-prime minister created the Christchurch Call, which brings together more than 120 governments, the tech sector and civil society organizations.
“Terrorist and violent extremist content online is a global issue, but for many in New Zealand it is also very personal. The March 15 terror attacks on Christchurch masjidain were a defining moment for our country and Jacinda Ardern’s leadership and the Christchurch Call is part of our response to those attacks,” Hipkins said in his announcement.
“Ardern’s commitment to stopping violent extremist content like we saw that day is key to why she should carry on this work. Her relationships with leaders and technology companies and her drive for change will help increase the pace and ambition of the work we are doing through the Christchurch Call.”
In her first interview since her shock January resignation, Ardern told Newshub she “believed it had more to do, and I knew that I would have the time to do it. And I certainly have the passion for it.”
“I also still feel a duty at a personal level to the community who are affected by this tragedy,” she said, also urging companies to be mindful of the potential ramifications of artificial intelligence and machine learning.
“Alongside the development of these new technologies, let’s think about ethical AI, about the safety mechanisms. Let’s think about it in advance.”
The Christchurch Call has delivered new safety tools and systems online, backed by many of those running the platforms on which this content is shared, Hipkins said.
“Work is also underway in new areas, like the way algorithms affect radicalization and how the implications of fast rising tech such as AI and augmented reality can be exploited by terrorists and violent extremists,” he said.
“We owe it to those who lost their lives on 15 March 2019 to continue our work to ensure there is no place for terrorist and violent extremist content online.”
Meanwhile, Ardern is also to join the board of trustees of the Earthshot Prize for contributions to environmentalism, established by Britain’s Prince William.
“Four years ago, before The Earthshot Prize even had a name, Jacinda was one of the first people I spoke to, and her encouragement and advice was crucial to the Prize’s early success. I am hugely grateful to her for joining us as she takes the next steps in her career,” the Prince of Wales said in a statement. EFE