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White House refuses to back New Zealand call to block extremist content online | Science & Tech News

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The White House has refused to back an international commitment to prevent the spread of terrorist and violent extremist content online.

A dozen countries including the UK, France, New Zealand, Australia and Canada, as well as technology giants such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google, Amazon and Microsoft, have supported the “Christchurch Call”.

But the US has not, with the Trump administration saying it was not “currently in a position to join the endorsement”.

Brenton Tarrant in his first court appearance
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Suspect Brenton Tarrant appears in court in March in connection with the shootings

This may be down to broader right-wing concerns over taking some conservative commentators off social media platforms.

Earlier this month, Facebook banned far-right commentators and conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones and Milo Yiannopoulos.

And some Republicans in the US have suggested the approach disproportionately targets conservatives.

The new call to action, drafted by the French and New Zealand governments, is named after March’s Christchurch shootings targeting two mosques, where 51 people were killed by a suspected white nationalist.

Australian Brendon Tarrant is accused of carrying out the massacre.

Some of the attack was shown live on Facebook, sparking public outrage and fuelling the debate about how to better regulate social media.

The new agreement, which is not legally binding, aims to prevent similar abuses of the web while preserving “the principles of a free, open and secure internet, without compromising human rights and fundamental freedoms”.

Facebook, which owns Instagram and Whatsapp, said it is investing $7.5m (£5.8m) to improve technology to discover videos and photos which were manipulated to avoid detection.

This was the case with the Christchurch shooting, where the attacker live-streamed the massacre.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern welcomed Facebook’s pledge, saying: “There is a lot more work to do, but I am pleased Facebook has taken additional steps today… and look forward to a long-term collaboration to make social media safer.”

The tech companies may join forces to develop technology or expand the use of shared digital signatures.

Prince William arrives at the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch
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Prince William last month visited one of the mosques targeted in March’s shootings

They have promised to reduce the risk that such content is livestreamed, including flagging it up for real-time review.

And they pledged to study how algorithms promote extremist content so they can intervene more quickly.

The White House said it will “stand with the international community in condemning terrorist and extremist content” and thanked Mrs Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron for their efforts.

It added: “We continue to be proactive in our efforts to counter terrorist content online… while also continuing to respect freedom of expression and freedom of the press.”

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Child among 22 migrants rescued from Channel by French authorities | World News

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French authorities have rescued 22 migrants who got into trouble while trying to cross the Channel.

The group, which included a woman and a child, was found roughly two miles off the coast of Dunkirk at about 1.30am on Sunday.

Authorities were alerted to the migrants’ plight by a ferry just after midnight and sent out search and rescue teams.

They were safely recovered and taken back to Dunkirk on board the RIAS Bee Languedoc.

Earlier this week, Boris Johnson warned migrants not to attempt the Channel crossing, saying: “We will send you back.”

The prime minister said: “Clearly the most important thing is to stop them coming across from France so we are working very closely with the French authorities.

“The point I would just make to people thinking of making this journey – one, it is very hazardous, you may think the weather looks great but it’s a very, very dangerous thing to do.

“The second thing is – we will send you back. The UK should not be regarded as a place where you could automatically come and break the law by seeking to arrive illegally.”

His comments came after dozens of migrants were rescued off the British south coast on Thursday.

One witness told Sky News dozens of people were picked up and taken to Dover, in Kent.

The Home Office confirmed 37 migrants were rescued after four small boats were intercepted.

It said Home Secretary Priti Patel would be raising the issue with her French counterpart.

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Five Britons arrested and 100kg of drugs confiscated in Malaga | UK News

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A British criminal network has been foiled in Spain, with more than 100kg of drugs confiscated. 

Five Britons – three men and two women aged between 38 and 62 – have been arrested in connection with the network by the National Police in Malaga.

Five people were arrested. Pic: Policia Nacional
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Three men and two women have been arrested. Pic: Policia Nacional

Officers said they intercepted 52kg of a mix of marijuana and hash, and 51kg of vacuum-packed marijuana buds.

The police operation also saw the seizure of 23,000 euros (£21,000) in cash.

Drugs were being sent across Europe through couriers based in Malaga, and it is thought they were destined for countries including the UK, Sweden, Poland and Denmark.

The suspects allegedly took steps to avoid police, including frequently changing which vehicles they used and the homes they rented, officers said.

Some of the drugs were destined for the UK. Pic: Policia Nacional
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Some of the drugs were destined for the UK. Pic: Policia Nacional

A long-running police operation saw two parcel shipments intercepted at courier agencies in May, containing 58kg of drugs in seven boxes intended for Sweden, Poland and Denmark.

In subsequent shipments, the last one intercepted earlier in August, three packages containing 17kg of the drugs were prevented from reaching Sweden and the UK, the force said.

Police then carried out home searches once the suspects were identified, with a further 28kg uncovered in the raids.

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Hong Kong: Police use water cannon for first time against protesters | World News

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Hong Kong police have used water cannon against anti-government protesters for the first time during a second straight day of demonstrations.

There have been skirmishes between activists and officers following a pro-democracy march in an area known as the New Territories where tens of thousands took to the streets.

A large crowd then attended a rally in a park but another group of protesters took over a main street, putting up barricades with traffic barriers and cones.

Police tried to disperse them by firing tear gas but protesters reacted by throwing bricks and other objects towards the officers.

The violence came a day after similar clashes in the Kowloon Bay district where authorities arrested 29 people for offences including unlawful assembly, possession of offensive weapons and assaulting police officers.

According to the South China Morning Post, the custom-built French trucks have 15 high-pressure cannons.

Two cannons on the roof can fire more than 1,200 litres of water a minute over a distance of 50 metres. The water can be mixed with tear gas or liquid dye as well.

According to guidelines, the cannons should only be aimed at the lower limbs of the protesters.

An assistant commissioner of police overseeing operations is allowed to authorise deployment of the water cannon after assessing threats.

The trucks arrived in the city in May last year.

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