Tech titans will be breaking Australian law if they do not take down footage of terrorist acts as soon as they learn about it, under proposals the Prime Minister will put to their top brass.
At a meeting in Brisbane on Tuesday, Scott Morrison will discuss violent offences being broadcast on social media platforms such as Facebook and YouTube.
The meeting comes less than a fortnight after the Christchurch mosque massacres, 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. He will stress the government will act if it doesn’t believe the social media companies are doing enough.
In that regard, the government is drafting laws that would make it illegal for platforms to fail to 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 on Tuesday.
“That is totally unacceptable.”
The proposed legislation would also allow the government to declare footage of an incident filmed by a perpetrator and hosted on such sites as “abhorrent violent material”.
That would mean federal authorities could ask social media providers to remove the material, with penalties increasing for the companies the longer the footage remains available.
The proposals are based on existing laws covering child exploitation material.
Mr Porter said the government’s pressure on social media companies after the Christchurch massacre was 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,” he said.
Facebook removed 1.5 million posts of the footage of the Christchurch shootings. But it has said none of the 200 people who watched the live video of the massacre immediately reported it.
The first user report about the original video came 29 minutes after it was posted – 12 minutes after the live broadcast ended, Facebook 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.