Tech giants must show moves on child abuse

Tech giants forced to say how they will stop child abuse

Global tech giants including Apple and Facebook have been ordered to show Australian authorities what they are actually doing to stop child abuse on their platforms or risk daily fines.

Australia’s eSafety commissioner has issued legal notices to Apple; Meta, the parent company of WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram; Microsoft, including its Skype platform; Snap; and Omegle.

The move is under the Online Safety Act 2021 and requires the companies to report on how they are tackling the proliferation of child sexual exploitation material.

The act has basic online safety expectations, setting out minimum requirements for tech companies that wish to operate in Australia, described as a “world-leading tool” by eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant.

“They will help us ‘lift the hood’ on what companies are doing – and are not doing – to protect their users from harm,” she said in a statement.

“As more companies move towards encrypted messaging services and deploy features like live streaming, the fear is that this horrific material will spread unchecked on these platforms.”

Ms Inman Grant said the decision to issue a notice was an information gathering process.

Companies who do not respond to the notices within 28 days could face penalties of up to $555,000 a day.

The eSafety regulator has handled more than 61,000 complaints about illegal and restricted content since 2015, with the majority involving child sexual exploitation material.


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