Australia asks Apple, Meta and Microsoft to share anti-abuse measures and threatens fines

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SYDNEY, Aug 30 (Reuters) – An Australian regulator has sent legal letters to Facebook owner Meta Platforms (META.O), Apple Inc (AAPL.O) and Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) demanding they share their strategies to eradicate child abuse material on their platforms or face fines.

The Electronic Safety Commissioner, a body set up to protect internet users, said it used laws that came into force in January to force tech giants to disclose the steps they were taking to detect and remove material. abusive within 28 days. If they fail to do so, the companies would each face a fine of 555,000 Australian dollars ($383,000) per day.

The threat underscores Australia’s hardline approach to regulating Big Tech companies since 2021, which has so far included laws requiring them to pay media outlets to display their content and laws requiring them to hand over details. anonymous accounts that post defamatory material.

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Meanwhile, internet companies have come under pressure around the world to find a way to monitor encrypted messaging and streaming services for child pornography material without intruding on users’ privacy. Read more

“This activity is no longer confined to hidden corners of the dark web, but is prevalent on the mainstream platforms that we and our children use every day,” Commissioner Julie Inman Grant said in a statement.

“As more companies turn to encrypted messaging services and roll out features like live streaming, the fear is that this horrible material will spread unchecked on these platforms,” ​​she said. added.

A spokesperson for Microsoft, owner of the Skype video calling service, said the company had received the letter and expected to respond within 28 days.

A spokesperson for Meta, which also owns the WhatsApp messaging service, said the company was still reviewing the letter but continued to “proactively engage with the Electronic Safety Commissioner on these important matters”.

Apple, which owns FaceTime video messaging service, iMessage messaging service and iCloud photo storage service, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

The Electronic Safety Commissioner pointed to figures provided by the US National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, which said this year it received 29.1 million reports of child pornography from internet companies, including only 160 came from Apple while 22 million came from Facebook.

($1 = 1.4499 Australian dollars)

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Reporting by Byron Kaye; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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