Australia Imposes Hefty Fine On X For Failure To Provide Information On Child Abuse Content


Australia’s online safety regulator, eSafety, has issued a substantial fine of $386,000 against X (formerly known as Twitter) for its failure to respond to crucial inquiries regarding the platform’s efforts to combat child abuse content. This penalty, though not financially burdensome for X, may have significant ramifications for its reputation as it already struggles to retain advertisers.

Key Takeaway

Australia’s eSafety regulator has levied a significant fine against X (previously Twitter) for its failure to provide satisfactory responses about its efforts to combat child abuse content. The regulator’s decision highlights the importance of holding online platforms accountable for their actions in protecting users, particularly vulnerable individuals.

The Issued Notices

In February, eSafety served legal notices to several major tech companies, including Google, TikTok, Twitch, Discord, and X, under Australia’s Online Safety Act. These notices sought answers concerning the companies’ strategies for dealing with child sexual abuse material (CSAM).

Responses Found Inadequate

eSafety highlighted numerous shortcomings in the responses provided by X, referring to some sections as either incomplete, inaccurate, or left entirely blank. The regulator particularly criticized X for its failure to furnish information regarding the detection of CSAM during live streams and its admission of not utilizing any technology to identify grooming behavior.

Google Escapes a Fine

While Google was also found to have provided generic responses that were deemed inadequate, eSafety opted to issue a formal warning rather than impose a fine—a clear indication that Google’s deficiencies were not as serious.

Empty Promises and Accountability

eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant expressed disappointment in X (Twitter) for failing to fulfill its public commitments to combat CSAM effectively. Grant stated, “If Twitter/X and Google cannot provide answers to crucial questions about their efforts to tackle child sexual exploitation, it either shows their reluctance to address public perception or highlights the need for better systems to scrutinize their operations. Both scenarios are concerning and suggest a failure to meet responsibilities and community expectations.”

Controversies and Concerns Surrounding X

X has recently faced various controversies. It eliminated the option for users to report political misinformation, prompting concerns from an Australian digital research group. The company also downsized its trust and safety team after being taken over by Elon Musk. Additionally, X disbanded its Trust & Safety Council, an advisory group that played a critical role in advising the platform on issues like the effective removal of CSAM. These actions, coupled with the closure of X’s Australian office earlier this year, have raised questions about the platform’s commitment to user safety.

Global Scrutiny on X

Australia is not the only country placing X under scrutiny. India recently sent a notice to X, YouTube, and Telegram to remove CSAM from their platforms. Similarly, the European Union has formally requested details from X under the Digital Services Act (DSA) regarding the company’s measures to combat misinformation surrounding the Israel-Hamas conflict.

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