26 September 2023

Anti-terror plan to block online platforms

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Online platforms carrying harmful content from terrorists are to be blocked in Australia under new arrangements being put in place by the eSafety Commissioner.

Announced by the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, the move was recommended by the Taskforce to Combat Terrorist and Extreme Violent Material Online and follows New Zealand’s Christchurch Call to Action after that nation’s 15 March terrorist attack.

Mr Morrison said blocking the platforms would protect Australians from exposure to violent events online like those in Christchurch.

“The shocking events that took place in Christchurch demonstrated how digital platforms and websites can be exploited to host extreme violent and terrorist content,” Mr Morrison said.

“That type of abhorrent material has no place in Australia and we are doing everything we can to deny terrorists the opportunity to glorify their crimes, including taking action locally and globally.”

Minister for Home Affairs, Peter Dutton said the Government was taking strong action to ensure extremist content of any description did not gain a foothold anywhere in the country, including online.

“Our Government has really been leading the charge on combatting this scourge and this is another important step to ensure all Australians, of all ages, can feel safe at home and at work,” Mr Dutton said.

Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, Paul Fletcher said the eSafety Commissioner was working to implement website blocking arrangements to quickly and effectively block access to specific domains hosting terrorist or extreme violent material.

“The eSafety Commissioner will make these independent determinations on a case-by-case basis to keep Australians safe online while upholding important internet freedoms,” Mr Fletcher said.

He said a new protocol would include a 24/7 Crisis Coordination Centre to monitor and notify relevant Government Agencies of online crisis events involving terrorist and extreme violent material and provide the eSafety Commissioner with information to undertake rapid assessments.

Following the G7 Summit in Biarritz, France, Mr Morrison announced a new partnership with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development to strengthen transparency by tech companies in a bid to prevent online terrorist activity.

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