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Apple, Meta, Microsoft Should Share Anti-Abuse Steps, Demands Australia, Could Impose Fines

Apple, Meta, Microsoft Should Share Anti-Abuse Steps, Demands Australia, Could Impose Fines
An Australian regulator demanded that Facebook owner Meta Platforms, Apple Inc, and Microsoft Corp share their strategies for combating child abuse content on their platforms or face fines.
The e-Safety Commissioner, a body established to protect internet users, stated that it used laws that went into effect in January to compel the technology behemoths to disclose measures they were taking to detect and remove abusive material within 28 days. If they do not, the companies will be fined A$555,000 ($383,000) per day.
The threat highlights Australia's tough stance on regulating Big Tech firms since 2021, which has included laws requiring them to pay media outlets for displaying their content and laws requiring them to hand over information on anonymous accounts that post defamatory material.
Meanwhile, internet companies around the world have been under pressure to find a way to monitor encrypted messaging and streaming services for child abuse material without invading user privacy.
"This activity is no longer confined to hidden corners of the dark web but is prevalent on the mainstream platforms we and our children use every day," said commissioner Julie Inman Grant in a statement.
"As more companies move towards encrypted messaging services and deploy features like livestreaming, the fear is that this horrific material will spread unchecked on these platforms," she added.
Microsoft, which owns the video calling service Skype, said it had received the letter and would respond within 28 days.
A spokesperson for Meta, which also owns WhatsApp, said the company was still reviewing the letter but would "proactively engage with the eSafety Commissioner on these critical issues."
Apple, which owns the video messaging service FaceTime, the messaging service iMessage, and the photo storage service iCloud, did not respond immediately to an email seeking comment.
The eSafety Commissioner cited data from the United States National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which stated that this year it received 29.1 million reports of child abuse material from internet companies, with only 160 from Apple and 22 million from Facebook.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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