Australia issues $386,000 fine against X over failure to cooperate with child sex abuse probe


Australia issued a fine of $610,500 Australian dollars ($386,000) on Monday against the company formerly known as Twitter for “falling short” in disclosing information on how it tackles child sex abuse content, in yet another setback for the Elon Musk-owned social media platform.

Just days earlier, the European Commission formally opened an investigation into X after issuing a previous warning about disinformation and illegal content on its platform linked to the Israel-Hamas war.

Australia’s e-Safety Commission, the online safety regulator, said in a statement Monday that X had failed to adequately respond to a number of questions about the way it was dealing with the problem of child abuse materials.

The commission accused the platform of not providing any response to some questions, leaving some sections entirely blank or providing answers that were incomplete or inaccurate.

“Twitter/X has stated publicly that tackling child sexual exploitation is the number 1 priority for the company, but it can’t just be empty talk, we need to see words backed up with tangible action,” eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant said in the statement.

In February, Inman Grant had asked five tech firms — X, TikTok, Google (including YouTube), Discord and Twitch — about the steps they were taking to tackle the “proliferation” of crimes against children taking place on their services.

“Their answers revealed … troubling shortfalls and inconsistencies,” Inman Grant said. X’s failure to comply was “more serious” than other companies, the commissioner added.

The platform has 28 days to either request a withdrawal of the notice or pay up.

X did not immediately respond to a request for comment by CNN.

The commission said X did not respond to a number of important questions such as “the time it takes the platform to respond to reports of child sexual exploitation; the measures it has in place to detect child sexual exploitation in livestreams; and the tools and technologies it uses to detect child sexual exploitation material.”

When asked about the measures the platform has in place to prevent grooming of children by sexual predators, X responded by saying that it is “not a service used by large number of young people,” adding that its technology was currently “not of sufficient capability or accuracy.”

The regulator said Google also failed to answer a number of key questions on child abuse. The American tech giant has been given a formal warning to deter it from future non-compliance, it added.

Lucinda Longcroft, Google’s director of government affairs and public policy for Australia and New Zealand, told CNN the platform has “invested heavily in the industry-wide fight to stop the spread of child sexual abuse material” and remains “committed to … collaborating constructively and in good faith with the eSafety Commissioner.”

In an earlier report, the Australian regulator said it had uncovered “serious shortfalls” in how Apple, Meta, Microsoft, Skype, Snap, WhatsApp and Omegle tackle online child sexual exploitation.

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