Canada’s Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Ralph Goodale, has announced two new initiatives that will address online extremist and terrorist content.
Small technology companies are key partners in preventing the dissemination of violent extremist content, but often lack the capacity and financial resources to do so. The Canadian government will therefore commit up to $1 million to Tech Against Terrorism to create a digital repository that will notify smaller companies when new terrorist content is detected, which will support them in quickly removing it. This funding will help to achieve the commitment under the Christchurch Call to Action to support small platforms as they build capacity to remove terrorist and violent extremist content.
The Christchurch Call to Action is a global pledge to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online. Through the Christchurch Call, governments and online services providers are making voluntary, collective commitments to prevent people from abusing the internet to promote and sensationalize acts of terrorism. These commitments include building more inclusive, resilient communities to counter violent radicalization; enforcing laws that stop the production and dissemination of terrorist and extremist content online; and encouraging media to apply ethical rules when reporting on terrorist events to avoid amplifying terrorist and violent extremist content.
Canada’s second new initiative aims to empower young leaders to help shape the internet landscape by collaborating on a Youth Summit on Countering Violent Extremism Online. This event will bring young people together to learn about violent extremism and terrorism online, and develop effective tools to push back against this content and discourage its sharing. Representatives from technology companies, including Twitter, Facebook, Microsoft and Google, will help shape the event and collaborate directly with youth to develop ideas that can be shared broadly with their peers.
These initiatives will complement steps that the Government of Canada is already taking to address violent extremist and terrorist use of the internet, which is among the priorities under the National Strategy on Countering Radicalization to Violence that was announced in December 2018.
Through the Community Resilience Fund, which supports partnerships and innovation in countering radicalization to violence in Canada, projects are already underway to counter online extremism. Some of these projects include:
$1.5 million to Moonshot CVE for their Canada Redirect project, which uses online advertising tools and Internet video channels to direct individuals to content created by credible third parties that challenge ideologies that can motivate destructive attitudes and behaviour.
$107,146 to MediaSmarts for their project, Pushing Back Against Hate in Online Communities, to study how young Canadians respond to online hate speech.
$366,985 to the University of Ontario Institute of Technology to update its Environmental Scan of Right‐wing Extremism in Canada.
In addition, on June 26, the Canadian government published an update to its Criminal Code list of terrorist entities that included, for the first time, two right-wing extremist groups with a presence in Canada: Blood & Honour, and Combat 18.