Menlo Park, California, 29 April 2019
It is a pleasure to join you once again to advance the critical work of this Commission. I want to thank our gracious hosts, Facebook, for providing us with such a conducive working environment for our meeting. Sir Nick Clegg and Kevin Martin: On behalf of all of us, thank you and the wider family of Facebook.
Today’s sessions go straight to the heart of our priorities as the Broadband Commission. Let me highlight in particular the issue of harmful content which has just been mentioned.
We will hear an important report from the working group on child safety online. We will also consider the creation of a new working group, led by UNESCO, focused on hate speech and disinformation.
Large-scale violence is always preceded by a process of dehumanisation through the spread of ideas that justify killing. I think that’s why this stands out for mention, so we see how to manage it. We had a situation like this in my own country, 25 years ago. It is why we work to ensure that ideologies of hatred and division have no place in our public domain.
There was no internet in Rwanda in 1994. Radicalisation is therefore not a new phenomenon, much less a by-product of modern social media. But while the challenges of today are not qualitatively different, technology has indeed changed the landscape in two important ways.
The first is speed. The internet is an accelerant. It costs very little to reach a lot of people, very quickly.
The second is the absence of accountability. Individuals who cause harm can do so anonymously. It should properly be regarded as a form of cyber-crime.
We do not need special rules and regulations for the virtual world. Nor is there any valid reason to constrain basic freedoms or limit access to broadband. That would only slow development and further deepen inequalities.
We simply need the means to enforce our laws and hold individuals accountable for what they do online, just as we do offline.
Access and infrastructure go hand in hand. Today, we will also hear an update on the Digital Moonshot for Africa and other infrastructure initiatives, as we move toward the goal of universal access to broadband by 2030.
Allow me to close by commending the excellent work that has been done to prepare for this meeting, and more generally. Everything depends on the dedication of our Commissioners and the professional staff that supports our work. Thank you very much, and we are here to join Facebook, once again, to welcome you and thank you for your attention. I look forward to our discussion today. Thank you very much.