Australia’s eSafety Commission Takes Strong Stand Against Non-Compliance in Online Child Safety
Australia’s eSafety Commission has taken a significant step in holding internet companies accountable for their online safety practices. The regulatory body has issued a fine of A$610,500 (approximately $386,000 or £317,360) on Twitter, also known as “X,” for failing to cooperate with a probe into anti-child abuse practices.
The investigation stemmed from a post made by Elon Musk in November last year, in which he declared that “removing child exploitation is priority #1.” However, the eSafety Commission criticized the company for what it referred to as “empty talk” on the matter, prompting this enforcement action.
Twitter, which has seen a decline in revenue since Elon Musk’s acquisition for $44 billion last year, is now facing the consequences of non-compliance with Australian regulations. Under laws that were implemented in 2021, the regulator has the authority to compel internet companies to provide information about their online safety practices. Failure to cooperate can result in fines, and if unpaid, the regulator can take legal action against the company.
X, previously known as Twitter, has been fined under Australia's Online Safety Act for allegedly failing to demonstrate it was doing enough to crack down on child sex abuse material.https://t.co/ivlHJwj7Ci
— DW News (@dwnews) October 16, 2023
In this case, the eSafety Commission found Twitter’s non-cooperation to be more serious, stating that the company “failed to provide any response to some questions, leaving some sections entirely blank.” Questions related to the platform’s response time to reports of child sexual exploitation, its methods for detecting such content in livestreams, and the technologies used to identify child sexual exploitation material remained unanswered.
Furthermore, Twitter confirmed to the regulator that it had undergone significant layoffs, cutting 80% of its global workforce, and currently has no public policy staff in Australia, down from two employees before Elon Musk’s acquisition.
This development comes shortly after Alphabet’s Google received a warning for non-compliance regarding its handling of child abuse content. While Google was issued a warning, Twitter’s lack of response to crucial inquiries resulted in the imposition of a substantial fine.
The eSafety Commission’s actions underline the importance of stringent compliance with online safety regulations, particularly concerning the protection of children from harmful content on digital platforms.