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.
Australia ordered internet providers on Monday to block eight websites that published content linked to the Christchurch mosque massacre — a first under new censorship rules.
Australian and New Zealand shares fell sharply on Thursday as investors sold off equities globally in search of safety after a drop in a US bond yield curve highlighted the risk of recession.
"Finally!!! After a huge amount of red tape, $99,922.36 has today been transferred to the Christchurch Foundation and Victims Support," William Connolly said, adding that he didn't need the money as a law firm acted pro bono for him.
"To the victims of the Tragedy, I whole heartedly hope that this can bring some relief to you. Keep spreading the love."
The Coromandel Express, which runs from Kolkata to Chennai, derailed and fell on the opposite track, with many people still trapped, the reports said.
Sheikh Mohammed added in a tweet on Twitter: "We found its executive director at the service counters, receiving customers, speeding up procedures, and contributing to clearing transactions. The secret shopper assured us that providing the service did not exceed five minutes."
The first lady arrived in Cairo from Amman, where she attended the wedding of Crown Prince Hussein. She is travelling to Morocco on Saturday before heading to Portugal, the final stop of her tour, on Monday.