“Australian Internet service providers acted quickly and responsibly in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Christchurch in March this year to block websites that were hosting this harmful material,” Communications and Cyber Safety Minister Paul Fletcher said.
“ISPs called on the government to provide them with certainty and clarity in taking the action they did, and today, we are providing that certainty.”
Fletcher says the eSafety Commissioner has consulted with the specific website administrators, providing them with the opportunity to remove this content – and most have complied with the eight remaining offending websites to be subject to the blocking directive.
“Website blocking is not a universal solution to online harms, but it is important that this option be available to the eSafety Commissioner in extreme cases such as this.”
The direction requires ISPs to implement a six-month block, during which time the eSafety Commissioner will review and remove sites from the list as and when the offending content has been appropriately taken down.
The eSafety Commissioner is working with industry to develop an additional protocol to govern the rapid removal of terrorist and extreme violent material in a crisis event.
Fletcher said the arrangements announced today implemented a key recommendation of the report of the Taskforce to Combat Terrorist and Extreme Violent Material Online, which is a joint industry/government group formed to develop clear and tangible actions to prevent the dissemination of terrorist and extreme violent material online.
“The prime minister led the development of the Osaka G20 Leaders’ Statement that secured a global commitment to prevent online platforms from being used for terrorist and violent extremist acts, and was one of 17 country signatories to the pivotal Christchurch Call to Action,” Fletcher said.
“The government’s commitment to addressing this type of horrific material was again demonstrated during the August G7 Summit in Biarritz, when Prime Minister [Scott] Morrison announced a new OECD project to develop voluntary transparency reporting protocols for the major online platforms.
“This work will help to establish standards and deliver on commitments under the Christchurch Call to Action to implement regular and transparent public reporting in a way that is measurable and supported by clear methodology.”