Changing hate speech laws would 'not necessarily' have prevented Christchurch attacks - Helen Clark

Former prime minister Helen Clark says changing New Zealand's hate speech laws would not necessarily have prevented the Christchurch mosque attacks.

The Helen Clark Foundation released a report on TVNZ1's Q+A tonight, as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is arriving in Paris ahead of her summit on social media.

The report calls for social media companies such as Facebook to be regulated in the same way regular broadcasters are, and for much tougher hate speech laws.

"The current law only deals with hate speech on the grounds of creating racial disharmony or disorder, and clearly there’s rather more hate speech around than that," Miss Clark told Q+A.

"Now minority religious groups in our country come in for a particular level of abuse. So does the rainbow community. That’s just to name two groups. So I think, as [Justice Minister] Andrew Little said, it’s time to have a look at this law in the light of what’s happening in society." 

Asked would changing New Zealand's hate speech laws have prevented the Christchurch attack, Miss Clark replied," Not necessarily. I think that takes us into the accompanying issue in the report which is the issue of social media regulation which no society has yet really cracked."

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The former Prime Minister talks about hate speech and harmful content on social media. Source: Q+A

Miss Clark said: "What I’m concerned about is that the rising level of rhetoric on social media from people who think they can get away with just about anything. 

"And let’s face it, they can. I have regularly reported very hateful content, and very often you just get these reports dismissed. So that’s why you now need what this report recommends, which is the statutory duty to self-regulate, and then you need the regulator overseeing that." 

In Paris, Ms Ardern will rally political and tech leaders to her 'Christchurch Call' to ensure livestreaming violence and terror on social media never happens again. 

Ms Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron will co-chair a meeting of world leaders and tech bosses to secure an agreement on stopping violent extremism online.

Helen Clark backs Ms Ardern's 'Christchurch Call'.

"This attack was carried out by a violent extremist who communicated with his peers in closed groups on social media platforms," Miss Clark told Q+A. 

"What got more attention in New Zealand was the fact that for 17 minutes he broadcast his horror live. And that is absolutely wrong. And that is what Jacinda's Christchurch Call at the G7 summit is about. 

"But we need to come back to is it right that these publishers, who are the platforms, are letting these people work up their violent extremist acts without any regulatory oversight?"

* Q+A is on TVNZ 1 on Mondays at 9.30pm, and the episode is then available on TVNZ OnDemand and as a podcast in all the usual places.

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The former PM's comment came on the eve of Jacinda Ardern's summit in Paris on reigning in social media. Source: Q+A

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