Defeating online terrorism: Co-operation is the remedy

This week’s report that a weakness in WhatsApp allowed hackers to inject commercial spyware on to phones is another example, as if one was needed, that a belief in the idea of privacy requires the kind of optimism Lotto ticket sales relies on.

That the malicious code could be secretly imposed even if users did not answer phone calls, and the calls often disappeared from phone logs, adds a sinister air to the revelation.

It is also another challenge for legislators trying to keep pace with the ever-evolving communication landscape.

Despite that, digital ministers from the Group of 7 nations meet in Paris this week to discuss a plan advanced by New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Arden.

The plan — appropriately the Christchurch Call — urges signatories enforce laws that ban objectionable material, and set guidelines on how traditional media can report terrorism without amplifying them.

Arden was scheduled to meet the leaders of global tech giants yesterday though, unsurprisingly and again informatively, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg chose not to attend.

Fostering terrorism of all hues is just one of many accusations levelled at social media. European democrats have already warned how it might be misused ahead of this month’s elections. The case seems clear and the scale of the challenge is almost over-powering. Governments must work together to curb the platforms that facilitate man’s very worst behaviour — if it’s not already too late.

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