Elon Musk’s X Corp Defeats eSafety In Federal Court

Elon Musk’s X Corp Defeats eSafety In Federal Court

This morning, Federal Court Justice Geoffrey Kennett has ruled that Australia’s eSafety commissioner cannot demand the social media platform X take down content worldwide in a court case that tested the scope of whether Australian law to apply to global technology platforms.

The social media platform, owned by tech billionaire Elon Musk, had taken Australia’s online safety commissioner, Julie Inman Grant, to court to challenge an order it should take down videos of a man violently attacking Sydney bishop Emmanuel Mar Mari with a knife that had been circulating on the platform formerly known as Twitter. It had agreed to geoblock content to Australian users of X, but Inman Grant wanted it taken down to prevent it from being viewed via the use of a VPN – a request that X Corp and Musk had rallied against.

eSafety, the independent regulatory body that oversees online safety, won an interim injunction to have X Corp remove the posts until a federal court hearing on Friday 10 May.

After hearing the case on Friday, Federal Court Justice Kennett ruled on Monday: “In the this matter which I heard on Friday, the orders of the court will be that the application to extend the interlocutory injunction granted on the 22nd of April 2024, as extended on the 24th of April, is refused, and that the cost of the application are reserved.”

According to a report in The Australian, the Ashurst barrister representing X Corp, Bret Walker SC, told the court it would be a “matter of real concern” if the only way X could reasonably comply with a takedown order was to remove the content for users worldwide.

Barrister Tim Begbie KC, who represented eSafety, told the court the material posted online showed “actual graphic and shocking moments of that attacker (allegedly) repeatedly and violently stabbing” the bishop.

He said that X Corp’s position that this was a battle about free speech was flawed because, “X Corp itself can and does take that stance (to make footage inaccessible) when it wishes to”.

Media regulation experts speaking to B&T, had previously cast doubts that an Australian judge would allow X Corp to operate outside the bounds of Australian law, but questioned whether the eSafety commissioner’s request to remove the content worldwide is possible, or even desirable.

Justice Geoffrey Kennett is expected to explain his decision in a separate hearing this week.

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Elon Musk esafety commissioner Julie Inman Grant

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