Australia fines X $610,500 over child abuse content, issues warning to Google

Australia fines X $610,500 over child abuse content, issues warning to Google
Australia fines X $610,500 over child abuse content, issues warning to Google

Australia’s eSafety regulator has imposed a fine of $610,500 (AUD) on Elon Musk’s X (formerly Twitter) for its failure to respond to inquiries regarding reports of child sexual exploitation on the platform.

Search giant Google was found guilty of a similar offense but received a formal warning due to the less severe nature of its case.

Disinformation allegations

X, currently facing disinformation allegations from the European Union, has been given 28 days to either request the withdrawal of the infringement notice or pay the penalty.

eSafety released a statement indicating that X did not adequately address questions related to response times for reports of child sexual exploitation, measures for detecting exploitation in livestreams, and the tools used to identify such material.

The company also failed to provide sufficient answers regarding the number of safety and public policy staff employed at Twitter/X following the October 2022 acquisition and subsequent job cuts.

The eSafety Commissioner, Julie Inman Grant, emphasized that online child sexual exploitation is a growing issue both in Australia and worldwide.

She called on technology companies to take responsibility for protecting children from exploitation and abuse on their platforms, emphasizing the need for meaningful transparency in the industry.

Grant mentioned that previous reports had exposed shortcomings in how tech companies addressed these issues, and she called on Twitter/X and Google to improve their efforts in this regard.

In response to the findings, Grant expressed disappointment in the non-compliance of Twitter/X and Google, stressing that the questions pertained to child protection and online harm.

She called on these companies to demonstrate their commitment to addressing child sexual exploitation with concrete actions rather than empty promises.

Grant suggested that the companies’ inability to answer key questions implies they are not living up to their responsibilities and the expectations of the Australian community.