Following the live-streaming of the Christchurch terrorist attacks earlier this month, the Federal Government is drafting new laws that would make it a criminal offence for social media sites to leave such videos on their sites.
Attorney-General Christian Porter was due to meet with tech companies today to discuss the proposed legislative changes.
“We certainly want to hear from them today as to whether or not they have any plans or systems that they're intending to immediately institute to prevent the sort of outcomes that we saw after Christchurch,” he told ABC News on Tuesday morning.
“Christchurch fundamentally changes matters. I mean, it was the first time we really have experienced a terrorist using a social media platform as a specific tool of their terrorist event to spread hatred, violence, and terror.”
According to Porter, this comes down to the regulatory differences that exist between traditional broadcast media platforms and social media sites.
“We believe that if there can't be appropriate answers and responses about content control [from social media companies], then we will legislate to ensure that we get the sort of outcome that Australians I think deserve.”
The proposed changes could also spell jail time for those found to be in breach.
“We already have laws in the federal criminal code that require certain actions be taken and control taken over content, such as child pornography and the Classifications Act – laws around content, which is described as indecent or obscene.
“Now why would it be that we wouldn't have appropriate laws with harsh penalties, including the potential for imprisonment around content such as mass murder, or terrorism, or kidnapping, and things of that nature?”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison spoke of the need for social media companies to be held accountable in such instances.
“We need to prevent social media platforms being weaponised with terror content,” Morrison said in a statement published by the Sydney Morning Herald.
“If social media companies fail to demonstrate a willingness to immediately institute changes to prevent the use of their platforms, like what was filmed and shared by the perpetrators of the terrible offences in Christchurch, we will take action.”
Facebook already has existing systems in place to avoid the sharing of such videos on its site, however such systems were proven to be ineffective in part during the Christchurch incident, as millions of copies of the 17-minute video were shared around the site.
Porter called for a stronger investment into preventing these videos from disseminating.
“These companies make lots of money, billions of dollars-worth of profit, and a reasonable amount of that money surely has to be invested in staffing or technological solutions.