Sunday, 17 October 2021

Social media executives face jail under ‘world first’ Australian laws

SYDNEY: Social media executives risk jail for failing to take down violent extremist content quickly, under controversial laws passed in Australia Thursday – a “world first” in the wake of the Christchurch mosques massacre.

Lawmakers voted overwhelmingly in favour of the laws, which hold firms like Facebook and YouTube – and their executives – responsible for removing “abhorrent material” quickly.

The companies face fines approaching billions of dollars – or 10 percent of global annual turnover – for failing to enact the “expeditious removal” of footage of terrorism, murder and other serious crimes, while executives could face up to three years in jail.

Technology companies, policy experts and lawyers pilloried the legislation – which was jammed through parliament in two days and faces an uncertain future beyond elections expected in May.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who is facing a difficult reelection battle, said: “Big social media companies have a responsibility to take every possible action to ensure their technology products are not exploited by murderous terrorists.”

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