Elon Musk's X Scores Another Free Speech Victory in Australia


Elon Musk’s social media platform X won a legal battle in Australia on Monday after a court refused to extend a temporary order that blocked videos of a Sydney church stabbing.

According to local media, a federal court judge rejected a request from Australia’s online watchdog, eSafety Commissioner, to extend an injunction removing posts showing the stabbing attack against a priest that took place last month. 

ABC News Australia reports:

The Federal Court has chosen not to extend a temporary order for social media company X, formerly Twitter, to hide videos of a Sydney terrorist stabbing globally.

The eSafety Commissioner has been trying to force the platform to take down about 60 instances of the footage, showing an attack on Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel in Wakeley in Western Sydney, in April. Under the Online Safety Act, passed in 2021, the Commissioner, Julie Inman Grant, has the power to demand the removal of so-called “class 1 material”, under threat of significant fines.

Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel was stabbed during a livestreamed sermon that was widely circulated online, racking up hundreds of thousands of views.  Following the incident, the country’s eSafety Commissioner was granted a temporary legal injunction ordering X to hide posts that showed footage of the attack. 

In the days following the stabbing, X agreed to “geoblock” the posts, meaning most Australian users could no longer see them, and refused the eSafety Commissioner’s removal notice, which would have had a global effect.

Posting on his platform last month, Musk said he was pushing back against government censorship. 

“Our concern is that if ANY country is allowed to censor content for ALL countries, which is what the Australian ‘eSafety Commissar’ is demanding, then what is to stop any country from controlling the entire Internet?” he wrote at the time. “We have already censored the content in question for Australia, pending legal appeal, and it is stored only on servers in the USA.”

Australia’s left-wing Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, said last month that Musk was an “arrogant billionaire who thinks he’s above the law.”

“I do not think I’m above the law,” Musk responded. “Does the PM think he should have jurisdiction over all of Earth?”

While Musk’s victory is only small, it will come as a relief to many Australians who have witnessed their government become increasingly authoritarian over recent years. During the coronavirus pandemic, Australia drew condemnation from around the world over its draconian lockdown regimes, while many of its citizens were prevented from entering or leaving the country for a period of nearly two years. 

Las Vegas News Magazine

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