Elon Musk: eSafety commissioner drops court case against X over Sydney church stabbing

An online watchdog has dropped legal action against social media giant X Elon Musk after he refused to remove content related to a Sydney church stabbing.

eSafety took action in federal court earlier this year after X, formerly Twitter, vowed to fight a global content takedown order over the attack.

X Corp initially agreed to “geoblock” the content, limiting local access, but argued that the Australian government lacked the power to impose a global ban.

Despite the court hearing date being set, Cybersecurity Commissioner Julia Inman Grant announced on Wednesday that those proceedings would be halted.

In a statement, eSafety said it had decided to “consolidate actions” related to so-called Class 1 content at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

“We now welcome the opportunity for a thorough and independent review of the merits of my decision to issue a removal notice to X Corp,” Ms Grant said.

“Our sole aim and focus in issuing the takedown notice was to prevent this extremely violent video from going viral, which could incite further violence and cause more harm to the Australian community.”

Ms Grant said the online watchdog “believes that this option (waiving court proceedings) is likely to achieve the most positive outcome for the online safety of all Australians, particularly children”.

eSafety sued X Corp in court to force the platform to take down about 60 copies of footage from the alleged attack on Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel at Wakely Church on April 15.

A temporary injunction banning the content was later thrown out by a federal court, and X Corp launched parallel proceedings in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

Regarding the eSafety takedown order, Ms Grant said the key issue was the “ease with which children” can access violent content and she expected “reasonable companies” to act.

“By its own admission, X Corp regularly does … X Corp said it took action against 226,000 items of content following reports of illegality and ‘deleted 40,000 items of content globally’,” Ms Grant said.

“Other major social media platforms and search engines have complied with our (takedown) requests and takedown notices, including Meta, Microsoft, Google, Snap, TikTok, Reddit and Telegram.

“Therefore, it was a reasonable expectation when we filed our request to remove the extremely graphic video of the attack that X Corp would act in accordance with these publicly disclosed policies and practices.”

X Corp had previously vowed to fight the global takedown order, with billionaire site owner Mr. Musk blasted “Australian Censorship Commissioner” who “demanded global bans”.

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