eSafety Asks Big Tech to Explain How They Tackle Child Exploitation Material

eSafety Asks Big Tech to Explain How They Tackle Child Exploitation Material

Australia’s eSafety Commissioner has issued legal notices to a handful of tech giants, asking them to explain how they are tackling online child sexual exploitation on their respective platforms and services.

Specifically, eSafety issued notices to Apple, Meta (and WhatsApp), Microsoft (and Skype), Snap and Omegle. The legal notices basically require them to report on the measures they are taking to thwart the proliferation of child sexual exploitation material.

The notices given to the tech giants are issued under powers granted to eSafety as part of the Online Safety Act. A big part of that Act is something known as Basic Online Safety Expectations (BOSE). These aren’t headphones, rather a list of ‘rules’ that require online platforms to take reasonable steps to ensure that users are able to use the service in a safe manner. They’ll be accompanied by mandatory codes that will be developed soon. Things take time and the Online Safety Act has only been talked about since around 2019.

Criticism of just how long this whole Act that was fraught with opposition aside, there’s the very real issue of child exploitation material being available across easy-to-access parts of the internet. In a statement made Tuesday, eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant said the BOSE are there to drive transparency and accountability from tech companies.

“They will help us ‘lift the hood’ on what companies are doing – and are not doing – to protect their users from harm,” she said.

“Some of the most harmful material online today involves the sexual exploitation of children and, frighteningly, this activity is no longer confined to hidden corners of the dark web but is prevalent on the mainstream platforms we and our children use every day.”

She continued by saying that as more companies move towards encrypted messaging services and deploy features like livestreaming, eSafety fears that this horrific material will spread unchecked on these platforms.

Inman Grant said eSafety has handled more than 61,000 complaints about illegal and restricted content since 2015, with the majority involving child sexual exploitation material.

It was also noted that if a company doesn’t respond to a notice within 28 days, it could face penalties up to $555,000 a day.

If you or someone you care about needs support, please call LifeLine Australia on 13 11 14. If life is in danger, call 000.

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