In brief: We’ve seen a worrying trend in recent years that involves terrorists posting extremist material online, such as livestreaming mass shootings on social media. Australia plans to fight these actions by blocking access to internet domains hosting the content during crisis events.
As reported by Reuters, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who is in France for the 45th G7 Summit, said his government aims to prevent terrorists “the opportunity to glorify their crimes” on digital platforms.
The announcement comes after the mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand, back in March, which saw 51 worshippers killed in two mosques. The attack was livestreamed on Facebook.
To enforce the plans, Australia will establish a 24/7 Crisis Coordination Center to monitor for extremist online material. The country’s eSafety Commissioner will determine what should be censored on a case-by-case basis.
The Government added that in addition to extremist violence, any domains hosting “abhorrent material,” defined as content showing murder, attempted murder, rape, torture, or kidnapping that is recorded by anyone involved would also be blocked.
Companies including Facebook, YouTube, Amazon, Microsoft, and Twitter, alongside telcos Telstra, Vodafone, TPG, and Optus are expected to provide details on how they will implement the plans next month.
Australia is also considering legislation to force digital platforms to improve their safety, though it’s unclear what repercussions they would face if the companies failed to carry out the improvements.
There are a lot of unanswered questions surrounding the plans, such as how long the bans remain in place, whether the government would block all of Facebook or Twitter if it deemed it necessary, and how such a ban would affect the reporting of terrorist incidents.