ISPs' terror block backed by minister

Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Kris Faafoi has praised internet service providers who shut off access to some websites following the Christchurch terror attack in March.

Social media's role in spreading the alleged gunman's ideology and material is under the microscope, with Faafoi and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern off to France next week for a global summit on how to tackle the problem.

The killer broadcast the mosque massacre live on Facebook, posted images of the firearms allegedly used in the attack on Twitter, and frequented dark corners of the internet like 8chan, were few - if any - rules are enforced on what users can post.

"We have to seriously look… at how terrorists and extremists are using social media," Faafoi told Newshub Nation on Saturday.

"It is a place they are gathering, it's a place where they are growing and getting their messages out, then ultimately what happened on the 15th."

In the wake of the Sri Lanka attack last weekend, authorities temporarily blocked Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube. Experts said hoaxes and fake reports were spreading like wildfire in the hours after the deadly bombings, which claimed more than 250 lives.

Despite the Christchurch gunman's use of Facebook Live, the same didn't happen here. Faafoi didn't say one way or the other whether New Zealand authorities would do the same here, should a similarly catastrophic attack happen.

"Some of our internet service providers did shut down some sites that were propagating some of the material," Faafoi said, talking about Spark, Vodafone and 2degrees' move to cut access to sites like 8chan.

"If you look at the way the industry and the Government worked in a lot of spaces actually around the 15th to make sure New Zealanders were kept safe, it's quite promising."

When the service providers said they'd lift the block in late March, the Government asked them to keep it on a bit longer, Newsroom reported at the time.

Faafoi said "furious work" was being done behind the scenes so countries around the world could agree on how to tackle the problem when they meet in Paris, rather than have New Zealand go it alone in cracking down.

"We have to take a global approach, I think to work up against the heft of the likes of Twitter, or the likes of Facebook, because New Zealand doing it in isolation won't be enough," Faafoi explained.

"This can't go on anymore. If you look at what those terrorist groups are doing and using some of the features of social media to gather, to grow and get their messages out, and that puts us all at risk."


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