He made the call yesterday as he co-chaired the Annual Broadband Commission meeting hosted by Facebook at their Headquarters in San Francisco city of California State.
The meeting was also attended by International Telecommunication Union (ITU) ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao and the Vice-President for Mobile and Global Access Policy at Facebook, Kevin Martin.
President Kagame said the sessions go straight to the heart of our priorities of the Broadband Commission and highlighted, in particular, the issue of harmful content.
He revealed that the session will hear an important report from the working group on child safety online and consider the creation of a new working group, led by The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), focused on hate speech and disinformation.
“Large-scale violence is always preceded by a process of dehumanization, through the spread of ideas that justify killing. We had a situation like this in my country 25 years ago. That is why we work to ensure that ideologies of hatred and division have no place in our public domain,” he said.
President Kagame said that there was no internet in Rwanda in 1994 that radicalization is therefore not a new phenomenon, much less a by-product of modern social media.
He noted that while the challenges of today are not qualitatively different, technology has indeed changed the landscape in two important ways. The first is speed where the internet is an accelerant costing 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 global inequalities,” he said.
“We simply need the means to enforce our laws, and hold individuals accountable for what they do online, just as we do offline,” added Kagame.
He said that access to broadband and infrastructure should go hand in hand. Noting that a lot is being done to move towards the goal of universal access to broadband by 2030.
President Kagame also met with Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg on the sidelines of Broadband Commission meeting for sustainable development held at Facebook headquarters.
The Broadband Commission was set up in 2010 to boost the role of technology in international budget planning and promoting broadband in all countries.
The previous meeting was held in September 2018 in New York.