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2024-04-20T044551Z_238308797_OWABCP0701655053184806912_RTRMADP_BASEIMAGE-960X540_ABCbishop.JPG
Australian Broadcasting Corporation via Reuters Connect
2024-04-20T044551Z_238308797_OWABCP0701655053184806912_RTRMADP_BASEIMAGE-960X540_ABC.JPG
Australian Broadcasting Corporation via Reuters Connect
World News

Australian judge lifts ban on X showing Sydney church stabbing video

by Lydia Davies

An Australian judge has decided to lift a temporary ban, allowing the social media platform X to show a video of a bishop being stabbed in a Sydney church.

The temporary ban was established 22nd April but was not extended after a judge dismissed the request from Australia's eSafety Commission to prolong the court order set to expire on Monday.

Federal Court Justice Geoffrey Kennett said in the court hearing: "I will publish my reasons for imposing and lifting the order later," indicating that a detailed explanation is forthcoming.

Elon Musk, who rebranded Twitter as X upon acquisition, has been at the centre of the controversy for refusing to remove the video. Defending his stance on X, Musk declared: “Not trying to win anything. I just don’t think we should be suppressing Australians' rights to free speech."

The situation has sparked debate among Australian lawmakers, with Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones suggesting possible legal reforms at the hearing. He said: “There’s a fundamental principle at stake and that is, if you’re a company or anybody operating in Australia, then you’ve got to abide by Australian laws."

Jones also voiced support for eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant's actions, saying: "She made the right decision in our view to ensure that dangerous, violent, harmful material wasn’t being propagated online."

Tim Begbie, representing eSafety in court, criticised X for its stance on violent content: “X is a market leader in proliferating and distributing violent content and violent and extremist material.” He argued against X's pro-free speech position as largely illusory.

X's lawyer Bret Walker defended the platform's efforts to comply with Australian laws but highlighted the technical challenges and deemed the demand for a global ban unrealistic: “You don’t expect to see statutes saying the Australian Parliament will regulate what concerning Australia... can be viewed in Russia, Finland, Belgium or the United States,” he said.

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