Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Australia demands Apple, Meta, Microsoft share anti-abuse steps, threatens fines

Australia demands Apple, Meta, Microsoft share anti-abuse steps, threatens fines

SYDNEY (Reuters) - An Australian regulator sent legal letters to Facebook owner Meta Platforms, Apple Inc and Microsoft Corp demanding they share their strategies for stamping out child abuse material on their platforms or face fines.

The e-Safety Commissioner, a body set up to protect internet users, said it used laws which took effect in January to compel the technology giants to disclose measures they were taking to detect and remove abuse material within 28 days. If they did not, the companies would each face a fine of A$555,000 ($383,000) per day.

The threat underscores Australia's hardline approach to regulating Big Tech firms since 2021 which has so far included laws forcing them to pay media outlets for displaying their content and laws making them hand over details of anonymous accounts which post defamatory material.

The internet firms have meanwhile been under pressure around the world to find a way to monitor encrypted messaging and streaming services for child abuse material without encroaching on user privacy. 

"This activity is no longer confined to hidden corners of the dark web but is prevalent on the mainstream platforms we and our children use every day," said commissioner Julie Inman Grant in a statement.