Federal government to commit up to $1.9 million in funding to ‘combat terrorists online’

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The federal government has announced that it will commit up to $1.9 million in funding to “address terrorist and violent extremist content online,” according to a September 20 announcement by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“We must confront the rise of hatred and violent extremism,” said Trudeau in a tweet. “At the Christchurch Call Summit, I announced that Canada will fund a new tool that helps small and medium-sized online platforms better identify and counter content related to terrorism and violent extremism.

Trudeau made the announcement from New York, where he is attending the United Nations General Assembly.

“With information so readily available, the Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that social media and other online platforms are not used as tools to incite, publish and promote terrorism, violence and hate,” read a September 20 public safety statement. Department press release.

The funding responds to New Zealand’s “Christchurch Call to Action”, which was a pledge made by a number of governments in 2019 to “eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online” following terrorist attacks on the mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The $1.9 million in funds will be committed over a three-year period to Tech Against Terrorism, an initiative launched by the United Nations Counterterrorism Executive Directorate with a mandate to “counter the terrorist use of ‘Internet while respecting human rights’.

The federal funding will go towards the second phase of the initiative’s “Terrorist Content Analytics Platform” (TCAP), which the government describes as “a secure online tool that automates the detection, notification and analysis of verified terrorist content “.

Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino called TCAP “real tools that can make the internet a safer place for Canada, Canadians and the world” and said “extremist opinions and content are not ‘have no place online where they can influence others and incite violence”. according to his ministry’s press release.

The government says the development of TCAP’s second phase will allow it to monitor “a wider range of platforms” on which it can “identify and assess more types of content”.

In turn, the government says the development of TCAP “will help develop a content moderation tool to help small tech companies quickly remove this terrorist content.”

Mendicino also told a news conference Aug. 29 that the Liberal government is making progress and will soon introduce its pending “online harms” legislation, which seeks to regulate and censor any internet content deemed harmful or hateful.

He did not say when exactly the Liberals intended to introduce the new legislation or how similar it would be to Bill C-36, the Liberal online harms legislation that lapsed at the end of the last legislature.

However, Mendicino said the bill would set “clear boundaries on what is not acceptable” and added, “I think that includes hate speech, which includes criminal threats.”

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Peter Wilson is a journalist based in Ontario, Canada.

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