Elon Musk’s X defends its position as Peter Dutton says Australia can’t police the internet across the globe

Max Corstorphan
The Nightly
Elon Musk’s company X has doubled down after an injunction ordering it to block footage of the Sydney church stabbing was extended.
Elon Musk’s company X has doubled down after an injunction ordering it to block footage of the Sydney church stabbing was extended. Credit: NurPhoto/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Elon Musk’s social media platform X has doubled down on its rejection of the Albanese Government’s ability to censor what people see online as Opposition Leader Peter Dutton warned Australia “can’t police the whole internet across the world”.

An injunction ordering the social media platform block footage of the attack on Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel inside a western Sydney church from view was extended on Wednesday for more than two weeks — amid an extraordinary claim that Bishop Emmanuel wants the images to remain available online.

X Corp’s global government affairs team clarified its key concerns in a statement released in the US on Thursday as it continues the legal challenge.

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“First, we believe that these posts should not have been banned in Australia at all. The content within the posts does not encourage or provoke violence and fits within the Australian legislation’s category that permits content that can be reasonably considered as part of public discussion or debate,” the company said.

“Second, we oppose the demand to globally remove this content from X, as we believe that no government should possess such authority. X believes in respecting the right of a country to enforce its laws within its jurisdiction, and also believes that Governments should not be able to censor what citizens of other countries see online, and that regulators should stay within the boundaries of the law.”

X reiterated that Bishop Emmanuel had expressed “his desire for the video to remain online”.

“X believes it has complied with the notice issued by eSafety, and with Australian law, by restricting all the posts at issue in Australia,” the company said.

Speaking on Today Show on Friday, Peter Dutton expressed his support for the eSafety commissioner but stated Australia needs to “be realistic”.

“My view is that the laws are there,” Mr Dutton said.

He reminded viewers that his government gave the eSafety commissioner the power to order social media platforms to remove extreme content.

However, Mr Dutton stated Australia needed to “be realistic”, as the country “can’t police the whole internet across the world, but we can influence what happens in Australian society.”

“I’d love to say that it could be taken down so that no kid across the world could watch it, (and) we strongly support the commissioner’s position in relation to taking it down so that Australians can’t view it,” Mr Dutton said.

“But we can’t pretend that Australia can dictate to other countries around the world what people see within their countries. As we wouldn’t tolerate that here, that Russia could dictate what content is seen in Australia.”

A full hearing with X Corp and the eSafety commissioner is scheduled for May 10. X Corp has advised it believes “these principles are important to defend and we will continue to do so.”

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