Child Porn in Australia: Big Tech’s Tarnished Image

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Monday, April 19, 2021


Big tech has mastered philanthropic evangelism. Pulling heartstrings is their game. Whether promoting environmental conservation or challenging homelessness, Facebook, Google, and Twitter know how to create a positive look. Does the picture-perfect image of community service hold up though? News from across the pond paints a different picture.

The Australian parliament introduced legislation last month that strengthens cyberbullying and child pornography regulations. If passed, the 2021 Online Safety Bill would give the Australian eSafety Commissioner authority to issue removal notices to big tech companies for any non-consensual “intimate” images or cyberbullying. This law would update current regulations to include purview over online private messaging and adult cyberbullying while strengthening provisions to remove child pornography.

The new anti-cyberabuse measures elicited a cold rebuttal from big tech firms. Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Microsoft joined forces submitting separate responses against the bill.

Rarely challenging the issue of child pornography head-on, Facebook argued the bill criteria present could dangerously “capture political speech.” This comes on the heels of recent allegations that Facebook has unjustly removed partisan content on its platform.

Google offered a similar rebuttal to the law promoting, “clear exclusions…for app distribution services, Cloud-based infrastructure services, and communications services (e.g. messaging, chat or other applications where users expect a greater degree of privacy)—” in other words, the heart of what makes the law effective. 

In a prime example of pharisaical legalism, Google also took issue with the definition of “intimate image.” Their argument—nude images and images of religious individuals bare of religious coverings are not equally embarrassing. Rather than protect the “individual rights” of both parties, Google cites this double standard as a reason to reform the law.

Commenting on the bill’s second reading, Australian Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts, Paul Fletcher, said that the Commissioner won’t need prior review before removing extremely explicit or “material which is so abhorrent that it would be refused classification.” Content that sexually exploits children is included under this designation.

The law would specifically target private messaging systems, host websites, search engines, and even apps. 

Minister Fletcher described such measures as, “a world-first cyberabuse take-down scheme” representing a new stage in the fight against child pornography and cyberbullying. 

Last December, PornHub was forced to remove thousands of videos displaying child pornography as a result of overwhelming public backlash. Big tech’s ambivalence and downright refusal to support child porn prevention measures in Australia show the battle isn’t over.

It is no secret that big tech has grown to be the most powerful arbiter of freedom of speech. Yet, power and responsibility are two birds of a feather. As Australia seeks to filter out child pornography and cyberabuse, those with the greatest power to stop it balk. 

Philanthropy is important, but does the big tech image reflect its true identity? By repulsing child porn measures, silicon valley has shown its actions truly repulsive.

Alex McKenna is a native of the Ohio Valley with a passion for the true, good, and beautiful. Studying Political Science and Humanities and Catholic Culture at Franciscan University of Steubenville, he focuses on political philosophy and engaging the failures of modern day American culture. Alex's interests include backpacking, riding, maple syrupping, and his favorite: family.

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.


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About Alex McKenna

Alex McKenna is a native of the Ohio Valley with a passion for the true, good, and beautiful. Studying Political Science and Humanities and Catholic Culture at Franciscan University of Steubenville, he focuses on political philosophy and engaging the failures of modern day American culture. Alex's interests include backpacking, riding, maple syrupping, and his favorite: family.


alex.mckenna.mr on Instagram @alex.mckenna.mr

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