Australia targets tech firms with 'abhorrent material' laws

Australia has passed controversial laws which could see tech companies face penalties – including jail for executives – if they host violent videos on their platforms.

The laws, billed as a probable world first, follow last month’s New Zealand mosque shootings which killed 50 people and were live-streamed by the gunman.

The Australian government said websites “should not be weaponised”.

Critics say the laws have been rushed through parliament without scrutiny.

The bill says tech firms could face penalties if they fail to remove “abhorrent violent material” quickly enough. Such content is defined to be terror attacks, murders, rapes, tortures and kidnappings.

The penalties include fines of up to A$10.5m (£5.6m; $7.5m), or 10% of annual turnover, according to the legislation. Company executives or those who “provide a content service” could face up to three years in jail.

The laws put the onus on firms to take down the content “expeditiously” – a term that is not further defined but would be ultimately determined by a jury, the government said.

Social media sites struggled to contain the video of the Christchurch attacks, which was copied onto the alt-right file-sharing site 8chan and then spawned 1.5 million copies.

Last week, Facebook said it would explore restrictions on live-streaming in the wake of that event.

Bill criticised

Prime Minister Scott Morrison proposed the laws for the first time last week.

The Labor opposition helped to…

Continue Reading This Article At BBC News