Australian Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton Criticizes Social Media CEOs for Failing to Stop Online Child Abuse

By AAP
December 11, 2019 Updated: December 11, 2019
FONT BFONT SText size

Australia’s Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has labeled social media bosses “morally bankrupt” for failing to stop online child abuse and exploitation.

Dutton savaged tech titans for pushing back against his repeated calls to give police and intelligence agencies greater access to encrypted messages.

“You get CEOs of these companies who are making billions of dollars but they’re morally bankrupt,” the home affairs minister told Sydney radio 2GB on Thursday.

Dutton has accused social media giants including Google, Facebook and Apple of protecting pedophiles since as early as October and promised to “shame” companies into changing their ways. He and security ministers from the Five Eyes intelligence alliance—comprising the United States, Britain, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand—have been demanding tech giants to grant law enforcement backdoor access to encrypted content.

Facebook has been blamed for nearly two-thirds of the 18.4 million worldwide reports of child sexual abuse material last year.

Dutton has consistently argued children should be afforded the same protections online that they are in the general public.

“At the moment, these companies just aren’t living up to what I think is a reasonable community expectation and the police are frustrated,” he said.

In October, Dutton told 2GB radio, “These companies are really pushing back but we’ve got to stand up to them because the rules that apply in our towns and cities should apply online.

“If you’ve got a photograph of a child being sexually abused, the police can see that with a warrant, but if you send that picture as an attachment on an encrypted messaging app then police can’t discover it.

“It doesn’t make sense because we can stop children becoming victim to a paedophile,” Dutton said.

“We can’t allow the proliferation online that’s taking place and it’s doubled in the last 12 months.

“The number of cases where this child abuse material is being shared online—there are groups where pedophiles are meeting online, protected by these companies—it can’t stand.”

Australia continues to work closely with the United States and Britain to clamp down on digital platforms.

“Hopefully they will change their ways,” Dutton told 2GB on Thursday. “If not, we’ll have to legislate to deal with them.”

The home affairs minister is heading to Washington as he continues his crusade against the circulation of child pornography.

By Daniel McCulloch. Epoch Times staff contributed to this report.