Thursday, 2 May 2019

Embarrassing Waste of Time and Money

Irony to Terrorism Summit Next Month

Barry Soper
NZ Herald

There's something supremely ironic that New Zealand and France will be holding hands at an international terrorism summit in Paris next month.  The irony is that France is the only country to have committed an act of modern day terrorism on our soil when its agents blew up the Rainbow Warrior in July, 1986, killing one man.  David Lange, the then Prime Minister, would be turning in his grave today given the vitriol he levelled at France following the bombing.

But then again he did go soft and send the agents who planted the device back to France to be honoured for their services.  So maybe Lange, who could smell uranium on one's breath, would be relaxed at how far diplomacy's come.

But let's look at what Jacinda Ardern's calling the Christchurch Summit in Paris for what it really is. 
The idea no doubt came from the French President Emmanuel Macron who's been haemorrhaging in the opinion polls at home, sinking to 23 percent last December, but since recovering to 34 percent.

He obviously had a look at the two meetings taking place in the French capital on May the 15th, the Tech for Humanity meeting of lowly ranked G7 Digital Ministers and another one called the Tech for Good.

Technology, how could he make some capital out of that - the pariahs on the Internet live streaming acts of terrorism, and how could they be reined in?  The international voice of reason and compassion Jacinda Ardern would have immediately come to mind and the pledge she's now calling the Christchurch Call was born.

Ardern's currency is such that to have her by your side in trying to right the wrongs on the cyber highway would have appealed, even if France has already taken action of its own.  She'll be co chairing the summit with Macron, which will be held alongside the other two meetings.  They're hoping to attract world leaders and tech company bosses to signup to the pledge, which as Ardern says, will be about expectations rather than regulations.

Yeah well there was certainly an expectation that the video of the crazed Christchurch gunman would have been taken down by Facebook and YouTube before now but they were still online this week.  So what will the Christchurch Call expect of its signatories?

The text is being worked on but Ardern insists it won't be about apportioning blame.

She says those attending the summit will be about "social cohesion around what we're doing to promote diversity and inclusion, so we can't step away from that responsibility but nor can Internet companies step away from theirs as well."

So that's what the Summit is really about - full, frank and meaningless words!

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