InternetNZ welcomes new reports on threats to democracy and online hate

8 May 2019

InternetNZ welcomes the release of the report Digital threats to democracy, which identifies and explores some of the biggest threats posed to democracy by digital media. Alongside this report released today was the InternetNZ funded report Online hate and offline harm written by The Workshop in response to the Christchurch mosque terrorist attacks.

InternetNZ recognises the Internet has created opportunities for better democracy, through inclusiveness, transparency and accountability, and better access to information. These opportunities however are at risk if fake news and misinformation, hate speech and increasing distrust in democracy take hold.

InternetNZ Policy Director Ellen Strickland applauds the contribution of this research on the complex issues around democracy and the Internet and the recommendations in both reports to embrace an inclusive approach to solving these issues.

“We as a society need quality research so that policy and action can be informed by better understanding these complex issues. This research is an important contribution to that.

“One of the recommendations we strongly support is the need to make sure a diverse range of voices are heard in how best to take action around the threats outlined, and other issues related to the Internet and society. We can’t just leave this to government and tech companies, we need to include academia and civil society as well.” says Strickland.

“The global spotlight is currently on New Zealand to be a voice in the conversation about extremist content online. It is vital that research helps inform responses, which is why we commissioned the Online hate and offline harm research. And it is critical that diverse voices are engaging in and continue these conversations,’ says Strickland.

The ‘Christchurch Call’ is one current piece of the larger conversation to be had about the future of digital media and how it impacts society. InternetNZ supports the quick action taken by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern inviting "a range of global civil society voices" to engage before the leaders’ meeting in Paris. InternetNZ are working to support civil society, academia and the technical community to engage in that process, to bring research and diverse perspectives to tackling the issues.

You can read both reports here: 

Digital threats to democracy
Online hate and offline harm