Morrison slams tech giants in terror fight


The Prime Minister took his global fight against social media giants to the United Nations yesterday as he warned terrorists and violent extremists were "weaponising" the internet.

Scott Morrison told a specially convened panel at the UN's headquarters in New York how the Christchurch massacre had exposed "significant shortcomings" in policing of popular online sites.

As New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern listened, Mr Morrison implored leaders to join his crusade for change to prevent the "terrible events" in her country from being repeated.

After the meeting, co-chaired by Ms Ardern, French President Emmanuelle Macron and King Abdullah of Jordan, Mr Morrison announced a new content blocking and crisis framework would be established as well as a pledge for tech firms to help solve the problem.

But in a thinly veiled criticism of social media firms, the PM told the specialised leaders' dialogue on terror-related issues on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, how the "rules of the physical world must apply in the digital".

"There should be no leave passes or different tolerances for different types of behaviour along the lines that exist in real space," he said as he revealed that authorities had thwarted 16 terror attacks.

"We now face a new threat as we all know, to peaceful societies," he told the UN Leaders' Dialogue on strategic responses to terrorist and violent extremist narratives

"And the terrorists and violent extremists are weaponising the internet by spreading hate.

"The industry built this new digital world and we have to work closely with them to ensure we can deal with the technologies that can help protect us from this digital world as well."

He added: "Without the industry's deep and engaged involvement in this, as committed to solving this problem as they are to pursuing the commercial objectives for which they were formed, then it will be very difficult to overcome.

"One thing is clear though, digital platforms must not be used to facilitate terrorism and violent extremism. Our shared sense of humanity must and will prevail."

Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Picture: AAP
Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Picture: AAP

Mr Morrison flew in from Chicago yesterday after giving a business speech in the US Midwest while a climate summit was held in New York.

A political row also erupted after Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese questioned the speech's criticism of China.

Mr Morrison also spoke of his government being committed to resolving challenges of common interest including on oceans, climate, illegal fishing and plastics pollution.

Speaking yesterday at an American Australian Association event in Manhattan, Mr Morrison urged caution against cracking down on banks so hard it would scare them into not lending.

"We can't be scared of our own shadows in our economy," he said. "And this is very important. The animal spirits of our economy in the role of the banking and financial system is to extending credit.

"While it's important to address those sort of conduct issues with the banks we must be very, very careful that we don't lead our banks into a place where they're being overly sheepish.

"That can really cut off the opportunities that we would otherwise have."