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U.S. isolation on critical global issues now extending to online extremism


Its name: “The Christchurch Call”, channeling the March 15th terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand. 


Purpose: Global crack down of online extremism that feeds horrific extremism. 


Leading countries are for it. So are Amazon, Facebook,  Google, Microsoft and Twitter.


Who isn’t supporting “The Christchurch Call”? The United States, according to The New York Times: “Trump Administration Balks at Global Pact to Crack Down on Extremism” . Citing free speech protections, the US government asserted, “the best tool to defeat terrorist speech is productive speech.”




That position came in the wake of another U.S. isolationist decision this week, this one on the urgency of controlling international plastic waste: “Governments agree to treat plastic waste like toxic chemicals” 


Excerpt from Responsible Business:


“At a summit in Geneva, around 180 nations agreed to amend the Basel Convention, which regulates how hazardous waste is moved across borders and disposed of, to include plastics. The amendment means that the global trade in plastic waste [estimated at 100 million tons in the oceans] will need to become more transparent and regulated, in order to prevent it from leaking into seas and other ecosystems.


“The USA, the world’s largest exporter of plastic waste opposed the move.”



From The New York Times article on The Christchurch Call (but also relevant to the administration’s plastics waste decision — and others — as well):


“Dipayan Ghosh, (an Obama administration privacy  policy expert)  said the absence of the United States from the accord showed that it was ceding tech regulation to other nations.


“That the U.S. is a no-show to such an important meeting indicates a shocking lack of concern about the tremendous harms perpetuated by the internet, including terrorism and killing.


“Further, our lack of participation will reinforce the intellectual divide between Americans and the rest of the world.”


New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, understandably  an architect of The Christchurch Call, at its signing meeting in Paris: “The social media dimension to the attack was unprecedented, and our response today with the adoption of The Christchurch Call is equally unprecedented.


“We have an agreement here that involves both tech companies and countries. In the past we have had either one or the other.”


Brad Smith, Microsoft president, suggested that the agreement — and the companies’ new nine-point plan addressing extremist and violent content —  might be seen as a part of the tech industry’s broader shift away from self-regulation: “Now you see a clear reaction and, in some cases, rejection of that.” 


If he is correct, perhaps The Christchurch Call will some day be seen as a big boost for public-private collaboration on social issues — as well as a seed for effective overall regulation of the internet.