Following the terrorist attacks in France in January 2015, the Online Hate Prevention Institute produced a detailed report “Je Suis Humain: Responsible free speech in the shadow of the Charlie Hebdo murders“. This report included a number of recommendations about the boundaries between free speech and hate speech, and the link between hate speech and extremism. It also included a wide range of recommendations.

The report was shared with relevant stakeholders in Australia and around the world. We are please to have received a response on behalf of Australia’s Attorney-General, Senator the Hon George Brandis QC. Some parts of that response are below. The Online Hate Prevention Institute has been working with the Attorney-General’s department in the area of countering online extremism and radicalisation, and subject to funding, we hope to be able to further increase our work in this area and add our unique skills to the effort of keeping Australia safe.

Extracts:

  • “Thank you for forwarding a copy of the report in response to the debate on free speech sparked by the Charlie Hebdo murders entitled “JeSuisHumain: Responsible free speech in the shadow of Charlie Hebdo”. The Australian Government believes that the safety of our community is the highest priority for any government. While violent extremists represent only a small, fringe minority of Australian society, an increasing number of Australians are travelling, or attempting to travel, to join extremists overseas. We are particularly concerned about the online environment which has no borders and vast amounts of terrorist propaganda are reaching directly into our homes and families. This extremist material and messages of hate and violence has the potential to radicalise young Australians.”
  • “The ability of Australian citizens to speak freely and openly is the hallmark of a robust democracy. However, it is critical that people use social media responsibly. It is illegal under Australian law to use social media in a way that could reasonably be seen as menacing, harassing or offensive, or to make threats to kill or cause serious harm to another person.”
  • “We are pleased to note the efforts of the Online Hate Institute to combat online hate in social media and would like to continue to talk with you on this issue of mutual interest. Thank you again for sharing your report with the Australian Government.”