Australian judge says it is unreasonable to require X to hide video of church stabbing for all users

By AP News


An Australian judge says it would be unreasonable for the country’s internet safety watchdog to require social platform X to hide video of a bishop being stabbed in a Sydney church from all of its users around the world

Australia Church Stabbing

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — An Australian judge said it would be unreasonable for the country's internet safety watchdog to require social platform X to hide video of a bishop being stabbed in a Sydney church from all of its users globally, as he explained his decision to lift a court order that had required X to hide the video of the attack.

Australian Federal Court Justice Geoffrey Kennett on Tuesday published his reasons for the decision a day earlier on the video that showed the stabbing of the Assyrian Orthodox bishop on April 15.

The company rebranded by billionaire Elon Musk when he bought Twitter last year was alone among social media platforms in disobeying Australia’s eSafety Commission’s removal notice on April 26 that required them take down the video of what Australian authorities have declared a terrorist act.

X geoblocked Australian X users, but eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant, a former Twitter employee, wanted 65 URLs leading to the video also removed from the platform.

Kennett described X’s argument that removing the URLs was not a “reasonable” step as “powerful.”

He said the step clashed with an international concept of the “comity of nations,” which recognizes that countries’ laws have territorial limits.

“If given the reach contended for by the commissioner, the removal order would govern ... the activities of a foreign corporation in the United States ... and every country where its servers are located,” Kennett wrote.

“It would be a clear case of a national law purporting to apply to persons or matters over which, according to the comity of nations, the jurisdiction properly belongs to some other sovereign or state,” Kennett added.

Kennett said such an order would be “ignored or disparaged” by various countries.

The judge said there was expert evidence that a court in the U.S., where X is based, would be “highly unlikely to enforce” such an Australian court injunction on the platform’s use of the video.

“This is not in itself a reason why X Corp should not be held to account, but it suggests that an injunction is not a sensible way of doing it,” Kennett said.

X returns to the Federal Court on Wednesday for a pre-trial hearing on its challenge to the validity of Iman Grant’s original removal notice. A trial date could be set for Wednesday.

Lawyers have been waiting since Monday to read Kennett’s reasons as they consider options including a potential appeal to the full bench of the Federal Court.

Australian government ministers have backed Iman Grant’s legal action against X and have foreshadowed potentially changing Australian laws if the courts find against her.

Her office didn’t immediately comment Tuesday on the judge’s reasons.

Musk posted on X after the ruling on Monday: “Not trying to win anything. I just don’t think we should be suppressing Australian’s rights to free speech.”

X did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday on the judge's reasons.


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