Musk Scores Victory For Free Speech In Australia

In a legal victory for Elon Musk’s social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, an Australian court has declined to extend a temporary order blocking videos of a stabbing incident at a Sydney church.

The Federal Court rejected a request from Australia’s online watchdog, the eSafety Commissioner, to extend an injunction that removed posts showing the stabbing attack against Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel, which occurred last month in Wakeley, Western Sydney.

Under the Online Safety Act, the eSafety Commissioner, Julie Inman Grant, sought to compel X to remove approximately 60 instances of footage depicting the attack. Despite the eSafety Commissioner’s efforts, the court decided against prolonging the temporary order, allowing the videos to remain accessible on the platform.

The stabbing incident, which took place during a livestreamed sermon, garnered widespread attention online, accumulating hundreds of thousands of views. Following the attack, the eSafety Commissioner obtained a temporary legal injunction requiring X to hide posts featuring footage of the incident. While X complied by implementing geoblocking measures, limiting access to the posts for most Australian users, it resisted the eSafety Commissioner’s demand for their global removal.

Elon Musk, posting on his platform last month, expressed concerns about government censorship and emphasized the importance of resisting such actions. He underscored the potential implications of allowing any country to control internet content globally, highlighting the need to challenge such attempts at censorship.

“Our concern is that if ANY country is allowed to censor content for ALL countries, which is what the Australian ‘eSafety Commissar’ is demanding, then what is to stop any country from controlling the entire Internet? We have already censored the content in question for Australia, pending legal appeal, and it is stored only on servers in the USA,” he wrote.

Australia’s far-left Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, criticized Musk, labeling him an “arrogant billionaire” who purportedly believes he is above the law. In response, Musk refuted the accusation, questioning the extent of the Prime Minister’s jurisdiction and defending his platform’s stance against censorship.

While Musk’s victory in this legal battle may seem minor, it signifies a significant win for free speech advocates in Australia. The country has faced criticism for its increasingly authoritarian measures, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic, when strict lockdowns and travel restrictions were imposed, eliciting condemnation from around the world.

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