Tech giants hauled in over extreme content

The Prime MInister to hold meetings with tech executives over the streaming of extreme violence
The Prime MInister to hold meetings with tech executives over the streaming of extreme violence

Tech titans would be breaking Australian law if they didn't take down footage of terrorist acts as soon as they learned about it, under proposed changes the prime minister will put to their top brass.

Scott Morrison will discuss violent offences being broadcast on social media platforms such as Facebook and YouTube during a meeting in Brisbane on Tuesday.

The meeting comes less than two weeks after the Christchurch mosques massacre, in which 50 people were killed.

A video of the terror attack, in which a lone gunman opened fire at two mosques during Friday prayers, was live-streamed on social media.

Mr Morrison and ministers will ask the tech executives what they're doing to prevent such footage festering online and stress the government will take action if it doesn't believe they are going far enough.

In that regard, the government is drafting laws that would make it illegal for the platforms to not remove footage of extreme violence as soon as they become aware of it.

"We cannot have a situation persist where a 10-year-old Australian, or any Australian for that matter, could log on to Facebook and witness mass murder," Attorney-General Christian Porter told Nine's Today program on Tuesday.

"That is totally unacceptable."

The proposed legislation would also allow the government to declare footage of an incident filmed by a perpetrator being hosted on such sites as "abhorrent violent material".

That would allow federal authorities to ask social media providers to remove the material, with the platforms receiving greater penalties the longer it is left up.

It is based on existing laws dealing with child exploitation material.

Mr Porter says the government's pressure on social media companies after the Christchurch massacre is akin to the Howard government ramping up gun control after the Port Arthur massacre in 1996.

"What we are doing as a government is what Howard did as a government and responding to the threats as they arise to make Australians safer."

Facebook took down 1.5 million posts of the footage of the Christchurch shootings but says none of the 200 people who watched the live video of the massacre immediately reported it.

The first user report about the original video was made 29 minutes after it was posted - 12 minutes after the live broadcast ended - the company said last week.

The online giants are also being urged to ensure they protect the personal information of Australians who use their platforms, with the government planning far harsher penalties for privacy breaches.

Australian Associated Press