New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern at the U.N.: ‘Disinformation’ Should Be Controlled Like Guns, Bombs, and Nukes
John Hayward, Breitbart, September 23, 2022
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called for more “collective” action in her address to the U.N. General Assembly on Friday, especially on the issues of climate change, nuclear non-proliferation, pandemic response, and opposing wars of aggression such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Ardern’s authoritarian impulses were on display in her call for tighter regulations on Internet speech, although she insisted she values free speech and merely wishes to cleanse “disinformation” from international discourse.
Ardern called for “disinformation” to be treated like bullets, bombs, or nuclear weapons, conceding that “a lie online or from a podium” does not immediately kill people like the “weapons of old,” but in the long run could be more dangerous:
But what if that lie, told repeatedly, and across many platforms, prompts, inspires, or motivates others to take up arms. To threaten the security of others. To turn a blind eye to atrocities, or worse, to become complicit in them. What then?
This is no longer a hypothetical. The weapons of war have changed, they are upon us and require the same level of action and activity that we put into the weapons of old.
We recognized the threats that the old weapons created. We came together as communities to minimize these threats. We created international rules, norms and expectations. We never saw that as a threat to our individual liberties – rather, it was a preservation of them. The same must apply now as we take on these new challenges.
Ardern went on to insist that she prizes the “free, secure, and open Internet” and “our right to protest,” and tacitly admitted that it would be difficult to build a consensus around her global crusade against disinformation. After all, one of the first world leaders to present a list of “falsehoods” he wanted to suppress would be Vladimir Putin, assuming he could beat Chinese dictator Xi Jinping to the global disinformation desk.
Ardern suggested that suppressing “violent extremism and terrorist content online” might be a place to start, citing the “horrific” March 2019 attack on mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand as an example, without offering any others.
“The attack was live-streamed on a popular social media platform in an effort to gain notoriety, and to spread hate,” she noted.
“As leaders, we are rightly concerned that even those most light-touch approaches to disinformation could be misinterpreted as being hostile to the values of free speech we value so highly,” Ardern allowed.
“But while I cannot tell you today what the answer is to this challenge, I can say with complete certainty that we cannot ignore it. To do so poses an equal threat to the norms we all value,” she continued.
“After all, how do you successfully end a war if people are led to believe the reason for its existence is not only legal but noble? How do you tackle climate change if people do not believe it exists? How do you ensure the human rights of others are upheld, when they are subjected to hateful and dangerous rhetoric and ideology?” she asked.