30 Aug 2018

Five Eyes allies urge digital industry to stop illicit material

10:52 am on 30 August 2018

New Zealand and its Five Eyes intelligence partners are calling on the digital online industry to take urgent action to stop child pornographers, terrorists and violent extremists from finding a platform on the internet.

Late night internet addiction or working late man using laptop computer in the dark

Photo: 123rf

After meetings in Australia, Ministers from the member countries - New Zealand, Canada, Australia, the US and UK - issued a statement stating the group is as determined to counter the "grave threats" online as they are to dealing with them in the physical world.

Minister Responsible for the NZSIS and GCSB Andrew Little and Minister of Immigration Iain Lees-Galloway attended the meeting on Queensland's Gold Coast this week.

This year's focus also included counter-terrorism, countering violent extremism, countering foreign interference, protecting critical infrastructure, migration, border management and law enforcement.

"We have a long, shared partnership with our Five Country colleagues and this is a valuable opportunity to discuss our shared challenges," Mr Little said.

"Finding collaborative ways to address national security issues will help to better ensure the safety and security of New Zealanders."

In a joint communique following the meeting, member countries expressed grave concerns about illegal and illicit online content, particularly the online sexual exploitation of children.

"We stand united in affirming that the rule of law can and must prevail online," reads the joint communique.

The Five Eyes group noted "with disappointment" that senior digital industry leaders did not accept an invitation to attend to engage on what it called "critical issues."

The joint statement says the anonymous, instantaneous and networked nature of the web has magnified threats and "opened up new vectors for harm."

It also noted that the evolution of digital technology has created new opportunities for transmitting child exploitation material and perpetrating the most abhorrent acts, such as live-streaming abuse.

The statement says illicit material is not relegated to the recesses of the dark web, but is accessible through most common top level domains. Mobile technology has enabled offenders to target children using apps to recruit and coerce children.

"The low financial cost, and the anonymized nature of this criminal enterprise, is contributing to a growth in the sexual exploitation of children. We must escalate government and industry efforts to stop this," it reads.

The communique also pledges to do more to prevent terrorists and violent extremists from spreading materials designed to radicalize, recruit, fundraise and mobilize.

Actions urged by the Five Eyes group include:

  • Developing and implementing capabilities to prevent illegal and illicit content from being uploaded, and to execute urgent and immediate takedown measures when there is an upload.
  • Deploying human and automated capabilities to find and remove legacy content.
  • Investing more on automated capabilities and techniques, including photo DNA tools, to detect, remove and prevent reupload of illegal and illicit content.
  • Building user safety into the design of all online platforms and services.

Attorneys-General from member countries, including New Zealand's David Parker, joined the second day of the meeting to discuss national security issues from a legal dimension.

"National security issues are complex and global by nature and we are committed to working together to address our current and emerging national security challenges," Mr Parker says.

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway discussed ways that New Zealand's immigration policy supports foreign relations and our international and humanitarian commitments.

"New Zealand supports a rules-based international system and is committed to protecting the wellbeing of New Zealanders," says Mr Lees-Galloway.


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