The legislation is up to punish social media executives as well as other online content and hosting providers with 3 years of jail time and up to 10 percent of the company's annual revenue if they fail to remove any violent content as fast as possible. The bill was passed in April this year, with support from different parties but also faced a lot of criticism because it's predicted that it will increase censorship and because the whole process was rushed.
Christian Porter, Australia's attorney general said that the bill is first of this kind in the world and came as a direct response to the video of a mass shooting. The video was available on Facebook for a full hour from starting of the gunman's broadcast, viewed by thousands of people. After removing the original video, facebook moderators had to remove another 1,5 million copies over the next 24 hours. The event itself was a terrible act. A man entered the mosque and started shooting at innocent people while broadcasting the whole time on Facebook. The act of broadcasting made authorities furious because social media platforms allowed the man to broadcast the whole event while spreading the words of hate and intolerance.
Porter said that the goal of the legislation is to make companies take responsibility for spreading the content of the "abhorrent violent conduct" marked as terrorism, murder, attempt murder, torture, rape, and kidnapping.
The Labor party believes that social media companies must do more in order to prevent the spreading of the material posted by terrorist organizations showing their terrible crimes. They also argue that the bill will encourage "proactive surveillance" by social media companies and undermine Australia's security cooperation with the USA. Even if the citizens choose some of the best VPN in Australia in order to prevent the surveillance they are still not safe if the violent content is not removed by companies and internet platforms.
The very important fact is that the legislation draws a clear line between news media and other hosting platforms like Twitter. This means that media companies will not be under the surveillance and content moderation because it is considered all the content appearing on their sites and blogs already went through censorship and editors decide which content to remove before publishing anything. Social media platforms, on the other hand, have a serious task in their hands. Having in mind that millions, even millions of users utilize these platforms it's going to be a difficult job to moderate and look through all the content users put up before it appears on their homepages.
President of the Law Council of Australia, Arthur Moses said that the legislation could have a serious impact on online investments and media censorship.
"Media freedom and whistleblowing of atrocities here and overseas have been put at risk by the ill-informed Livestream laws passed by the Federal Parliament," said Moses.
CEO of Atlassian, a Sydney based software company, Scot Farquhar said that the bill is quite dangerous because it will make any person in the company that allows the upload of the certain content guilty until proven innocent. To police this they will have to violate user's privacy.
The legislation will also apply to the material that is originally from outside of the Australian continent but could be reasonably accessible in Australia. The bill also requires all the companies and social media platforms to notify Australian Federal Police within a reasonable time that violent content, video or audio exists and it's referring to violent conduct happening in Australia.