World v Elon Musk: Watchdog to meet billionaire in court over take-down order

Billionaire Elon Musk’s escalating battle with Australia’s eSafety Commissioner and how far into cyberspace the internet cop should be allowed to reach is due to return to court.

Apr 24, 2024, updated Apr 24, 2024
sSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant. Supplied image.

sSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant. Supplied image.

The Tesla and SpaceX founder has stridently defended his social media platform X after it was accused of failing to remove footage of an alleged Sydney terror attack.

Blocking clips of Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel’s April 15 stabbing to Australian web users was enough, X has argued.

But eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant, backed by a rare united front of Australian politicians, wants the “extreme violent video content” deleted from servers as other social media platforms have done.

“To be clear, eSafety’s removal notice does not relate to commentary, public debate or other posts about this event – even those which may link to extreme violent content,” a spokesman said on Tuesday.

“It only concerns the video of the violent stabbing attack on Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel.”

A two-day court order compelling X to block the footage internationally expires on Wednesday afternoon.

The eSafety Commissioner is due to ask the Federal Court on Wednesday to extend the order and set up a final hearing to debate a proposed permanent takedown order and civil penalties against X Corp.

The office says it might be difficult to eradicate damaging content from the internet entirely but platforms are required to do everything “practical and reasonable” to minimise the harm it might cause to Australians and the Australian community.

Mr Musk continued a war of words by comparing Ms Inman Grant to a Communist authority, saying permitting her powers to extend beyond Australia’s borders could allow a single country to control 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 posted to X on Tuesday morning.

The maximum penalty for non-compliance with a removal notice for a body corporate is $782,500 per contravention.

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