Australia slaps AUD$610500 penalty on X for non-disclosure of child abuse content
The Australian eSafety Commissioner slapped a fine of AUD$610,500 on X for not sharing child abuse content information. Google has received a warning.
In a significant move to address child sexual exploitation online, the Australian eSafety Commissioner has levied a fine against X, a prominent microblogging platform backed by Elon Musk. X has been ordered to pay a fine of $610,500 AUD (about $384,000 USD) due to its failure to provide critical information regarding the detection, removal, and prevention of child sexual abuse material. In addition to this, Google has also received a formal warning from the authorities for similar non-disclosure.
A Call for Responsibility in the Digital Age
Julie Inman Grant, the eSafety Commissioner, has underscored the growing issue of child sexual exploitation online in Australia and globally. She emphasised the moral obligation of technology companies to protect children from such abuse on their platforms. Grant has called on organisations to take concrete actions beyond mere public statements, including X, which has declared its commitment to combating child sexual exploitation as a top priority, The New York Times reported.
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Penalties and Warnings Issued
X now has a 28-day window to respond to the eSafety office's warning or pay the imposed fine. Commissioner Grant pointed to a recent study that revealed shortcomings in the approaches of several internet firms, including Apple, Meta, Microsoft, Skype, Snap, WhatsApp, and Omegle, in addressing the issue of child sexual exploitation. The study highlighted inconsistencies in how Twitter (X) and Google are addressing and combating the growth of sexual extortion online.
The eSafety inquiry exposed that both Google and Twitter (X) had disregarded the notices provided to them and had offered insufficient responses to specific queries. Google received a formal warning for its generic responses and data compilation. It was observed that Google was not adequately utilising its technologies to identify known child sexual exploitation content on its platforms.
X faced even more substantial non-compliance charges as various sections of its response were entirely blank, lacking answers to certain critical questions. The corporation's recent acquisition and subsequent employee cuts in October 2022 appeared to hinder its ability to respond effectively to concerns about safety and public policy staffing.
Grant reiterated the need for practical measures to align with business interests in addressing child sexual exploitation. Interestingly, Discord cited cost as a barrier to detecting child sexual exploitation in live streams, setting it apart from platforms like YouTube, TikTok, and Twitch.