Australia Fines X For Not Sharing Data

Australia Fines X For Not Sharing Data On Child Abuse Content

Australia has taken a tough stance against online platforms that fail to protect children from harmful content. The eSafety commissioner, Julie Inman Grant, announced on Tuesday that she had fined X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, for not sharing information about its efforts to combat child se*ual abu*e content. This was the first time that an online platform was fined under Australia’s Online Safety Act, which came into effect in January 2023.

The Online Safety Act gives the eSafety commissioner the power to issue notices to online platforms, asking them to provide details on how they detect, remove and prevent illegal or harmful content, such as child abu*e material, cyberbullying, image-based abu*e and terrorist propaganda. The platforms have 28 days to respond to the notice, or face a fine of up to $10 million Australian dollars (about $6.3 million US dollars).

The eSafety commissioner issued a notice to X in February 2023, asking for details on how it dealt with child abu*e material on its platform. However, X failed to answer some of the questions or provided inaccurate or generic responses. The commissioner said that X did not meet the basic online safety expectations and had a responsibility to protect children from harm.

“X’s failure to provide this information demonstrates a disregard for the safety of Australian children and the expectations of the Australian community,” Inman Grant said in a statement. “We will continue to hold online platforms to account and ensure they are transparent about their actions to keep Australians safe online.”

X was fined $610,500 Australian dollars (about $385,000 US dollars) and given 28 days to either pay the fine or provide the requested information. If X does not comply, the eSafety commissioner can take further action, such as issuing an infringement notice, applying for a civil penalty order or initiating court proceedings.

X has not commented on the fine or the notice. The platform changed its name from Twitter to X in July 2023, after it was acquired by a consortium of investors led by Salesforce. The new owners said they wanted to rebrand the platform and focus on creating “a more positive and inclusive online experience”.

The eSafety commissioner said that she had issued notices to other online platforms as well, but did not disclose their names or outcomes. She said that most platforms had cooperated with her requests and provided satisfactory information. She also said that she was working with international partners and regulators to ensure that online platforms comply with global standards and best practices.

The Online Safety Act is part of Australia’s efforts to make the internet safer for its citizens, especially children and vulnerable groups. The act also establishes a complaints system for Australians who encounter harmful content online, and gives the eSafety commissioner the power to issue removal notices or blocking orders for such content. The act also requires online platforms to have clear and transparent terms of service and community standards, and to enforce them consistently and effectively.

The eSafety commissioner said that she hoped that the fine would send a clear message to X and other online platforms that they need to take online safety seriously and cooperate with her office.

“Online platforms have a moral and legal obligation to protect their users from harm,” Inman Grant said. “We will not hesitate to use our powers under the Online Safety Act to ensure that they do so.”

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