The Potential Harm of Global Content Take-Down Orders: Elon Musk vs Australia

The Potential Harm of Global Content Take-Down Orders: Elon Musk vs Australia

Can Australian courts determine what foreign citizens view online on a foreign-owned platform? This question raises concerns about the potential for other countries to do the same to Australians. The issue of global “take-down orders” has come to the forefront with the Australian eSafety commissioner’s demand for social media platform X to remove videos of a violent stabbing at a church in Sydney.

While there are instances where global take-down orders are justified, such as for child abuse materials and revenge porn, it is not as simple as saying that any platform operating in Australia must comply with Australian law. International law places limitations on what demands Australian law can impose on foreigners outside of Australia.

Efficiency is also not a sufficient justification for global take-down orders. Attempts to block online piracy sites through geo-blocking have proven ineffective. Even if X were to remove the content globally, determined Australians could still find it elsewhere online. Ordering X to use geo-location technologies to block Australians from accessing the content would be a more reasonable solution.

Elon Musk’s fight for free speech in this case may resonate with conspiracy theorists and online trolls, but it is an unusual occasion to defend free speech. There is no arguable value in keeping the violent videos online, so removing them can be seen as censorship without much objection.

Moving forward, it is important for countries like Australia to carefully consider the impact of their laws on people in other countries when regulating the internet. Global take-down orders should only be used in specific situations, as complying with all content laws worldwide would diminish the value of the internet. Proactive and cooperative international efforts are needed to effectively regulate the internet.

In this case, X’s decision to fight for the right to display violent extremism highlights the need for further discussions and solutions in regulating the internet.