Musk’s X challenges Australian law on content removal

The clash between X and the Australian cyber regulator has sparked intense debate over global content moderation and national sovereignty, raising crucial questions about the future of online free speech.

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A legal battle between Elon Musk’s X and the Australian cyber regulator has intensified over the removal of 65 posts showing a video of an Assyrian Christian bishop being stabbed during a sermon in Sydney. The eSafety Commissioner ordered the removal, citing concerns of terrorism. X argues against global removal, asserting that one country’s laws shouldn’t dictate internet content worldwide.

Representing the regulator, Tim Begbie emphasised that while X has policies to remove harmful content, it shouldn’t override Australian law. He criticised X’s stance, stating that refusal to remove content globally affects the definition of ‘reasonable’ within Australia’s Online Safety Act. Despite X’s geo-blocking attempts, Begbie argued it’s ineffective due to VPN usage.

Bret Walker, X’s lawyer, defended the company’s actions, stressing the need for global access to newsworthy content. He expressed concern over restricting global access based on Australian laws and emphasised the importance of allowing individuals to form their own opinions.

The Federal Court of Australia has extended a temporary takedown order on the posts until 10 June, delaying a final decision. The case underscores the debate over internet regulation and free speech, with implications for global content moderation and national sovereignty.