Australia sues X over transparency issues

The Australian eSafety Commissioner has initiated legal action against X, formerly known as Twitter, alleging non-compliance with a legal notice issued in February. The notice requested information on how the company was addressing online child abuse material and meeting basic safety expectations related to child sexual exploitation and abuse. The eSafety Commission contends that X failed to provide a report in the specified manner, accusing the company of not responding truthfully and accurately to certain questions.

In September, the eSafety Commission imposed a fine of $610,500 on X for its failure to comply with the transparency notice. However, X did not pay the fine and sought a judicial review of both the legal notice and the imposed penalty. The eSafety Commissioner is now seeking to consolidate the judicial review with civil penalty proceedings in the federal court to expedite the resolution of both cases.

While X did submit a response to the legal notice by the March 29 deadline, the eSafety Commission alleges that the company failed to respond truthfully and accurately to specific questions. The court filing asserts that X had the capability to provide accurate responses and later furnished additional material beyond the initial report.

The eSafety Commissioner, Julie Inman Grant, has emphasized the importance of transparency in addressing the issue of online child sexual exploitation. In October, she highlighted the growing problem of such exploitation in Australia and stressed the moral responsibility of technology companies to protect children from abuse. Grant expressed the need for meaningful transparency to hold the online industry accountable for addressing this critical issue.

This legal action follows earlier concerns raised by Grant in May regarding Twitter’s delayed responses to letters from her office and the communications minister about the platform’s online safety requirements under Australian law. While acknowledging that Twitter eventually responded to the transparency notice, Grant noted that it took nearly three months and multiple extensions. The legal proceedings underscore the ongoing challenges in ensuring online safety and the responsibilities of social media platforms in addressing child exploitation concerns.

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