IGF 2021 Open Forum #13 Christchurch Call & GIFCT: multi-stakeholder efforts for CVE

Thursday, 9th December, 2021 (08:30 UTC) - Thursday, 9th December, 2021 (09:30 UTC)
Ballroom B

Ensuring a safe digital space: How should governments, Internet businesses and other stakeholders protect citizens, including vulnerable citizens, against online exploitation and abuse?

Panel - Auditorium - 60 Min


How are tech companies working with governments, civil society and experts to better counter terrorism and violent extremism online?

How can we ensure that efforts to surface, review and remove terrorist and violent extremist content are not at the cost of privacy, free speech and other fundamental human rights?

How can we ensure that efforts by tech companies and governments are transparent in a meaningful way to understand progress and areas needing more work?

This session will address these crucial questions through the lens of the government-led Christchurch Call to Action and the technology sector-led Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT). This session presents an opportunity to discuss the synergy between the Call’s approach and GIFCT implementation structure to receive wider global input on the work taking place, and particularly how best to include and implement civil society input into CT and CVE solutions. This is an opportunity to grow the diversity of voices and perspectives contributing to both efforts.

Background Context

Following a terrorist attack against two mosques in New Zealand on March 15 2019, tech companies and Governments worked together to develop the Christchurch Call to Action. The goal of the Call is to prevent terrorist and violent extremists exploiting online platforms, and to preserve the internet as a force for good. The Call is based on voluntary commitments by supporting tech companies and governments, implemented in a multi-stakeholder context.

The Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT) brings together the technology industry, government, civil society, and academia to foster collaboration and information-sharing to counter terrorist and violent extremist activity online. Founded by leading tech companies in 2017, the ultimate goal of GIFCT is to prevent terrorist and violent extremist exploitation online. GIFCT brings together international multi-stakeholder communities to question; where can we share technology while respecting privacy, where can foster better action-oriented research, where can we share knowledge more between sectors and how can tech companies and relevant stakeholders react in response to real world violent incidence.

GIFCT has institutionalised the spirit of the Christchurch Call, by strengthening the collective capacity of its 17 technology member companies. GIFCT has responded to terrorist and violent extremist incidents with online implications, and continued to convene tech, government and civil society on specific issues tied to terrorism and violent extremism, while funding cutting-edge research. Together with its member companies, and the GIFCT Independent Advisory Committee, GIFCT has remained steadfast in its efforts to fulfill the commitments of the nine-point action plan, guided by its mission to prevent terrorist and violent extremist exploitation of digital platforms.

This year the multi-stakeholder Christchurch Call Community has agreed to do further work on: understanding and addressing the underlying causes of violent extremism; looking at user journeys and the role algorithms may play in driving users towards terrorist and violent extremist content; increasing transparency from Governments and companies; improving crisis response and readiness; increasing the diversity and expertise of our Community; and working on a wide range of other issues while preserving and upholding human rights and a free open and secure internet. The Call supporters now include 55 countries, and many of the largest companies in the world, as well as a large network of civil society actors. This session would also offer opportunities for a wider array of countries, private sector, technical communities and civil society to get involved and contribute a diversity of views from around the world.

The session envisages a discussion with experts from across the academic & technical community, human rights, media, counter-terrorism, victims of terrorism / violent extremism, governments, and online platforms. This session will be an opportunity to include much broader and global perspectives, insights, and commentary across a range of different stakeholders and the audience. about common effort by companies, governments and civil society.

  • David Reid, NZ Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Government, WEOG
  • Dr Erin Saltman Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism, Tech / International NGO
  • Anjum Raman, Inclusive Aotearoa Collective Tāhono, Civil Society, WEOG
  • David Greene (In-Person Moderator) - Christchurch Call Advisory Network, Civil Society, WEOG
  • Dina Hussein (Online Moderator), Meta, Tech, African Group
  • Dr Erin Saltman, Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism, Tech / International NGO
  • Anjum Raman, Inclusive Aotearoa Collective Tāhono, Civil Society, WEOG
  • Dina Hussein, Facebook, Tech, African Group
  • Paul Ash, Special Representative, Government, WEOG
Onsite Moderator

David Greene, EFF

Online Moderator

Dina Hussein


Jordan Carter


16. Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Targets: 16: Peace Justice and Strong Institutions 16.1: reduce violence in all its forms The Christchurch Call aims to reduce the contribution the online environment makes towards violent extremism and terrorism, including the proliferation of violent material and the role of the internet in radicalisation leading to violence. 16.a Strengthen relevant national institutions, including through international cooperation, for building capacity at all levels, in particular in developing countries, to prevent violence and combat terrorism and crime The Christchurch Call commits countries to counter the drivers of terrorism and violent extremism by strengthening the resilience and inclusiveness of our societies. The Call Community has endorsed a plan to help assist in developing best practice approaches and enhanced information sharing to help prevent terrorism and violent extremism in manner that respects human rights and a free open and secure internet.

Key Takeaways (* deadline 2 hours after session)
How to address terrorist and violent extremist content is a complex and important problem. Human Rights-based Multistakeholder approaches lead to better outcomes, but are also harder. Transparency is vital to their success, as is time spent building relationships in which challenging conversations can take place. It's vital such approaches succeed as the alternative is a cacophony incoherent and ineffective approaches damaging to all users.
Session Report (* deadline 26 October) - click on the ? symbol for instructions


This Open Forum discussed multi-stakeholder approaches to addressing terrorist and violent extremist content online. 


The Christchurch Call was presented as an example of an initiative that takes a voluntary approach where Governments and Companies agree to work based on a common set of commitments and underlying principles, where Leaders from all sectors set the priorities and where work is advanced through a number of different avenues. 


The Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT) was founded by four tech companies to help respond to the complex issue of responding to terrorist use of platforms, where content & activity proliferates across and between platforms as well as across borders and languages.   The Christchurch terror attacks increased the complexity of the threat landscape and led to changes in the GIFCT’s structure and organisation including its establishment as an independent NGO.  


Terrorist and Violent Extremist Content online is a complex and difficult issue to address.  Multi-stakeholder approaches are likely to be more effective but are also more difficult to implement effectively.  Human rights based approaches are vital, as is respect for the principles of a free, open, and secure internet.  Transparency is vital to their success, as is time spent building relationships in which challenging conversations can take place.  It's vital such approaches succeed as the alternative is a cacophony of incoherent and ineffective approaches damaging to everyone.


Civil Society participants noted the importance of transparency, and accountability in this space.  There was a lot of legislative and regulatory measures being put in place on terrorist content, and it was important to include the voices of those most impacted by the online aspects of terrorism in the conversation. 


Civil society participants were interested in seeing more information about how algorithms impact on the dissemination of terrorist content and are interested in the idea of independent assessments or audits to facilitate a better understanding of that issue.  They also wanted to see more transparency from both Governments and companies.  Online harm could also have real world impacts, and it was important to speak to people who understood those impacts best. 


Tech participants noted the significant effort and resourcing directed at creating multi-stakeholder fora and solutions to some of these issues, including providing more transparency about what they were doing in this space.  They noted that often the most challenging voices were the ones that were most helpful in identifying and addressing problems. It was important to be able to live with those tensions and to accept that there would always be a level of dissatisfaction which could help to drive further improvement. 


Government participants spoke to the importance of multistakeholderism being effective as well as inclusive.  Effectiveness was ultimately a key test of the legitimacy of the approach, and was key to getting Leaders engaged in similar processes.  Progress was being made in this area which was really important to highlight for those sceptical about multi-stakeholder approaches.