Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 15 December 2019

More effort needed to fight fake news, foreign ministers say

Germany’s Heiko Maas said digitalisation was the ‘major issue confronting humanity’

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves le Drian said he supported the 'Christchurch Call'. AP
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves le Drian said he supported the 'Christchurch Call'. AP

With the hijacking of democratic values in an increasingly digital world, foreign ministers on Tuesday called for more efforts from the international community to fight fake news.

“We have to adapt to the new challenges including the digital revolution. We need to reform international order to make it more inclusive, representative and effective as many have said,” Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said, addressing an audience at the Paris Peace Forum.

Mr Maas called the digital revolution “a major issue confronting humanity” and said that when developing artificial intelligence to reach solutions, humans “should remain at the centre”.

“AI needs to be defined in a reliable and responsible manner. We need to be fighting fake news and fake news campaigns with much more determination than hitherto,” he said.

France’s foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said governments should strike the right balance “between the laissez-faire and authoritarian approach” when countering online extremism.

He said he supported the “Christchurch Call”, which commits governments to eliminating terrorist content online after the massacre earlier this year at a New Zealand mosque.

Mr Le Drian added that it was important it was in place to help thwart October’s terrorist attack on a synagogue in Halle, Germany, before more people were killed.

Indian foreign minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar warned of technology’s borderless nature, despite it mainly being a force for good.

"We need to arrive at a global understanding, if not a global regulation, so that cyberspace remains open, safe and secure and for that, multilateralism is more essential than ever before,” he said.

Commissioner for the Security Union Julian King, who was also on the panel, said progress was being made to bring in new legislation to tackle online terrorist content quickly and effectively.

"We have been debating the first legislation at European level to target and eliminate terrorist content within one hour, when it's identified by judicial and legal authorities. We need a legal framework in this field."

The commission has been working with the large social media platforms to make progress in bearing down on Islamic and far right extremism.

Martin Tisne, managing director of philanthropic organisation Luminate, said the fight against disinformation was not going well. He pointed out that disinformation had been used recently in Bolivia during its presidential election and in Myanmar, where it has had a significant influence on young people.

The comments from the panel coincide with the release of a report on advancing Cyber Stability by the Global Commission for the Stability of Cyberspace. The report calls for collective responsibility for governments to stop actors who look to destabilise online platforms and to recognise that cyberspace must respect human rights and the rule of law.

Updated: November 12, 2019 07:22 PM

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