Australia

Scott Morrison scores G20 victory in drive against online terror content

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The G20 leaders have agreed to back Scott Morrison's push for global action on removing violent terrorism content from social media.

The world's leaders have pushed social media giants to root out terrorism and violent extremist content to protect everyone using the internet.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison earned a significant victory at the G20 summit by convincing all leaders of the world's major economies to agree to take action, inspired by the live-streamed Christchurch massacre.

"We urge online platforms to step up the ambition and pace of their efforts to prevent terrorist and VECT (violent extremism conducive to terrorism) content from being streamed, uploaded, or re-uploaded," the statementr eleased on Saturday said.

"We issue this statement to raise the bar of expectation for online platforms to do their part."

G20
The G20 leaders gathered at Osaka in Japan.
AAP

Speaking to the media on Saturday afternoon, Mr Morrison said it sent a "clear message" to technology companies. 

"This was about simply trying to ensure that we all were agreed that the Internet should not become a weapon of terrorists," he said. 

"The impetus of this is to say to the companies you have the technology, you have the innovation, you have the resources, and now you have the clear communicated will of the world's leaders to get this right."

He added: "It is not about Australia or about me at all, it is about the victims of the Christchurch terror attack and we will remember that day, and I think it was the most practical thing that, as cousins of New Zealand, that we could do."

In an exclusive interview with SBS, the Prime Minister said he was happy global leaders had responded so fast to his call to action.

"The internet is great, digital platforms are tremendous, it's changing our lives and our world, but it also brings with it some real perils,” he said.

“We're pleased to have gained global support for that; particularly from the United States and indeed the Russian Federation, to support a statement of that nature I think is very significant.”

Mr Morrison was persuaded by the March attack in New Zealand - when an Australian man allegedly killed 51 Muslims at two mosques and wounded dozens more - to push for a global crackdown.

In Christchurch, the world saw the internet being used as a weapon, Mr Morrison told leaders on Friday.

While the attack took place in New Zealand, its live-streaming via Facebook was an example of weaponising the internet to spread its global impact.

It's hoped the G20 statement will now give leaders the political support to enact individual initiatives in their own countries.

Australia's laws have been held up as the gold standard for others to follow.

The coalition government, with the help of Labor, passed laws just before the federal election to make it a criminal offence for companies not to take down videos that show abhorrent violent content.

Mr Morrison received strong support from Canada's Justin Trudeau, French president Emmanuel Macron, Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, and the European Union. German chancellor Angela May and UK prime minister Theresa May also spoke in support of the initiative.

It's understood the US had concerns asking social media companies to halt the publication of such content constituted censorship, but was persuaded by Mr Morrison's argument this was not about free speech and signed on after language in the statement was tempered.

Mr Morrison said most of the largest social media platforms are hosted in G20 countries and their bosses would listen if the summit spoke in unison.

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