Australian online watchdog drops lawsuit against X over sting video

Melbourne, Australia — Australia's online safety watchdog said on Wednesday it had dropped its case in federal court seeking to protect X Corp. to force a video to be deleted from a Bishop of Sydney is stabbed.

But eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant said she would continue her legal action at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal against the platform, which was rebranded in 2023 after billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk bought Twitter.

Musk welcomed the decision, posting on X: “Freedom of speech is worth fighting for.”

The case at the tribunal, which reviews the administrative decisions of bureaucrats, was brought by X and ran parallel to the case at the Federal Court.

Inman Grant, a former Twitter employee, said the cost was a factor in her decision to “consolidate” her committee's legal action against X.

“The real questions that I want to test through an independent merits assessment will be done at the AAT and it made no sense for me to fight a battle on two fronts when, let's face it, the war is going to last much longer. and more extensive” than initially thought, Inman Grant told Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Inman Grant revealed that too legal action against X had led to online attacks against her and her family, including the malicious online release of personal or identifying information without the individual's consent, known as doxxing.

She blamed Musk for the attacks.

“He handed out a dog whistle to 181 million users around the world, which resulted in death threats against me, which resulted in doxxing of my family members, including my three children,” Inman Grant said.

“So I think with great power comes great responsibility, and to exercise that restraint, when it comes to attacking a regulator that is here to protect the citizens of Australia, is really excessive. But that is not surprising, given that we have seen him litigate and personally target NGOs, academics and other researchers who dare to criticize the security of the X platform,” she added.

Communications Minister Michelle Rowland supported Inman Grant's decision to take X to Federal Court and her decision to drop the case.

“The government supports our regulators and we support the eSafety Commissioner, especially in light of the reprehensible threats to her physical safety and the threats to her family while carrying out her job,” Rowland told parliament.

X was the only one of the social media platforms that refused the order of Esafety to remove the video from a 16-year-old who stabbed an Assyrian Orthodox bishop in a church in Sydney on 15 April, while a service was streamed online.

While Meta, Microsoft, Google, Snap, TikTok, Reddit and Telegram removed the video, X would only go as far as geoblocking Australian X users.

The committee went to the Australian Federal Court to enforce a global ban on sharing the video.

Musk has used his personal

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese Called Musk an 'arrogant billionaire' who considered himself above the law and out of touch with the public.

But eSafety suffered a loss in court on May 13 when a judge revoked an order which required the San Francisco-based company to hide the content worldwide. Judge Geoffrey Kennett found that the global ban was not a reasonable requirement to post on the platform.

“This case has raised important questions about how legal powers can be used to threaten global censorship of speech, and we are encouraged to see that freedom of expression has prevailed,” X wrote on Wednesday after the case was dismissed.

Inman Grant said her committee still had five pending lawsuits against X, partly over the platform's failure to disclose how it combats child sexual abuse material.

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