Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks to the media during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia. File photo/ AFP
MELBOURNE: Social media executives could spend up to three years in prison and their firms be fined 10 per cent of their turnover if they fail to quickly remove violent material from their platforms, according to a new law proposed by the Australian government.
The March 15 massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand, in which 50 worshippers were killed at two mosques was carried out by a suspected white supremacist who livestreamed the killings on Facebook, raising criticism of the role of social media in society.
“Big social media companies have a responsibility to take every possible action to ensure their technology products are not exploited by murderous terrorists,” Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement.
“It should not just be a matter of just doing the right thing. It should be the law.”
If the law passes, it will be a criminal offence for companies, such as Facebook Inc and Alphabet’s Google, which owns YouTube, not to “expeditiously” remove the “abhorrent violent content.” Juries would decide whether the content was removed fast enough.
The government will present the law to the parliament next week - its expected final week before the federal election.
Morrison has also said that Australia has created a task force between government and social media companies to tackle the issue and wants to put it on the agenda for the summit of the G20 leaders in Japan in June.
The Australian government said it has met earlier in the week with social media companies, including Facebook, but that the outcome of the talks was not satisfactory.
“(They) did not present any immediate solutions to the issues arising out of the horror that occurred in Christchurch,” Mitch Fifield, Australia’s minister for communications, said in a statement on Saturday.
Facebook on Friday said it was exploring restrictions on who can access their live video-streaming service, depending on factors such as previous violations of the site’s community standards.
Facebook earlier this week banned praise, support and representation of white nationalism and white separatism.
Should Australia move with the introduction of the new law, the individual fines of up to 10 per cent of global revenues could be hefty.
: A far-right Australian senator who said the Christchurch mosque massacre was the result of Muslim immigration into New Zealand was censured for his “ugly and divisive” comments by his parliamentary peers on Wednesday.
The body of an Indian student killed in the Christchurch mosque attacks was returned on Monday to her grieving family in Kochi, where relatives remembered a bright young woman dedicated to her studies.
People charged with possessing or distributing the video of a gunman's deadly rampage at two New Zealand mosques last month have been getting death threats, local media reported on Tuesday.
The Court of Appeal in Fujairah has looked into the murder case of an Asian worker by his colleague in a labour accommodation in the emirate. According to the police records, the defendant who was a flatmate of the victim, was consuming alcohol excessively with five others on the day of the incident. The defendant and the victim entered into a heated discussion. The accused assaulted the victim and stabbed him with a knife in the abdomen. The suspect was subsequently arrested by the police after an attempt to rescue the victim.
A personal assistant who snatched the ATM card of a person of determination and drained his bank account for having delayed his salary landed in court on Monday.
An investor sought the help of a relative and two other men in knifing a driver during a botched robbery bid, a court heard on Monday.
Under the keenness of the Sharjah Police General Directorate to constantly develop and improve the provided services, a smart vehicle service was activated to impound the violating vehicles in the central region, to be followed by the rest of the emirates.