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Monday, May 20, 2024

X wins court reprieve in battle over extreme Australian content

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Sydney, Australia – A bid by Australia’s online watchdog to impose a global ban on dozens of violent X posts stumbled on Monday, when a top judge ruled in favour of the social media firm.

Federal Court Justice Geoffrey Kennett refused to extend a temporary order to take down posts showing the stabbing of a Sydney priest in April, pending further legal action.

“The orders of the court will be that the application to extend the interlocutory injunction… is refused,” Kennett said, without giving the reasons for his decision.

Australia’s eSafety Commissioner wants the Elon Musk-owned company to take down 65 video and audio clips in Australia and worldwide.

The site, formerly known as Twitter, has agreed to geoblock the posts, theoretically preventing them from being seen by users in Australia.

But the eSafety Commission has said that does not go far enough.

It has called for X to remove the posts globally, saying they are still easily viewed in Australia through the use of virtual private networks that mask a user’s location.

X had refused to comply with requests to take them down worldwide.

Monday’s ruling is not a total victory for X, as it had already been ignoring the worldwide take-down order and further legal action is expected.

It is unclear whether the judge rejected the extension of the order on procedural or substantive grounds.

But it does signify a reprieve, and could mean the firm avoids some fines.

The case is being seen as an important test of the social media platform’s legal responsibilities and of the use of geoblocking.

Almost a quarter of Australians use virtual private networks, according to the eSafety Commission.

Musk has previously told X users to use virtual private networks to bypass alleged “censorship” of the site in Brazil.

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