Network 10 News, X (Twitter) & eSafety

OHPI CEO Andre Oboler was interviewed by Network 10 News on the campaign by Elon Musk and X (Twitter) as they seek to defy Australian law and reject the authority of Australia’s eSafety Commissioner.

Andre Oboler on 10 News (10 Play account required to view)

The eSafety Commissioner is a government official whose powers are defined in laws passed by the Australian parliament. The particular powers to demand a global take down of content (rather than a more limited block of such content in Australia) are very limited in scope and were created after the Christchurch terrorist attack as a response to social media’s role in spreading abhorent violent content. These powers only apply to content that it would be illegal to import into Australia.

Australia is not alone is having laws related to the internet that have global reach. The US protects its commercial interests globally with the DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act), while Europe protects the online privacy of its citizens globally with the GDPR. When the content is Australian, as the video of the attack on the priest in Sydney was, Australia has both a right and a responsibility to act.

As I told Channel 10, this response from the eSafety Commissioner, using the strongest tools in her tool kit with potentially huge fines, has only come into play because X, unlike other platforms, has not behaved in a reasonable and sensible manner. There is no value and much harm in sharing this content. Musk is after the sensationalism of defying a government and insisting he can do as he pleases.

The ability of other countries to pass laws regulating the internet was established in the LICRA v. Yahoo! in 2000. In 2006 it was made clear by the US courts that US companies have no First Amendment right to violate foreign laws. If Musk doesn’t like the laws in Australia, and wants to ignore laws here, engaging in contempt of court, he would need to cease all business dealings with Australia, avoid traveling to Australia, and live as a fugative. It seems highly unlikely he will go down that route, which suggests this is simply more sensationalism as we have seen from Musk before, including when he bought Twitter in the first place.