Business & Economy

Australia orders global tech giants to report anti-child abuse measures

Sydney, Australia, Aug 30 (EFE).- Australia has ordered global tech giants to show what measures they are taking to combat child abuse on their platforms or face hefty fines, the government reported on Tuesday.

Australia’s eSafety commissioner has issued legal notices to Apple, Meta (parent company of WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram), Microsoft and its Skype platform, as well as Snap and Omegle, which must respond within 28 days as part of its initiative to drive transparency and accountability from the multinationals.

If they do not respond within the timeframe, the companies could face fines of AU$555,000 ($382,000) per day, according to a statement from the commission.

The e-Safety commissioner, Julie Inman Grant, said that her government agency had received more than 61,000 complaints about illegal and restricted content since 2015, most of them linked to the distribution of child sexual exploitation material.

“Child sexual exploitation material that is reported now is just the tip of the iceberg – online child sexual abuse that isn’t being detected and remediated continues to be a huge concern,” Inman Grant said, warning that the problem has worsened since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The commission’s measure falls under the government’s Basic Online Safety Expectations, a key part of the Online Safety Act 2021, and which sets out minimum requirements for tech companies operating in Australia.

Key safety risks linked to child sexual exploitation and abuse include the ability for adults to contact children on a platform, as well as features such as livestreaming, anonymity and end-to-end encryption.

“This has lent itself to range of proliferating harms against children including online grooming, sexual extortion and coerced, self-produced child sexual exploitation material,” said the agency.

Last year 29.1 million reports were made to the United States National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, according to the statement. EFE


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