The home affairs minister called out the chief executives of Facebook and Apple during a keynote address to a global summit on tackling child exploitation.
“Mark Zuckerberg, Tim Cook, and other tech CEOs have made billions of dollars, but these CEOs are morally bankrupt on the issue of encryption and protecting children,” Dutton said in Ethiopia.
“These companies have the ability to shift the dial, but instead behave like the tobacco companies of the 1960s. They know with certainty their actions are causing harm and they pretend it isn’t happening.”
Dutton accused the tech titans of double standards.
“Mark Zuckerberg, Tim Cook and other CEOs would not tolerate bullying and sexual harassment or exploitation in their workplace and they would champion the empowerment of women,” he said.
“But at the same time they tolerate the use of their platforms for the sexual exploitation of children, predominantly young girls.”
Dutton’s incendiary spray is the latest escalation in his long-running war against social media giants for refusing to give police access to encrypted messages.
Australia is working closely with the United States and Britain to clamp down on the digital platforms.
Closer to home, the minister has announced that states and territories have endorsed nationally consistent screening standards for people who work with children.
“We need to be realistic about the threat of child abuse, both online and here within our communities,” Dutton said on Friday.
“We will continue to work with the states and territories to ensure we are ever vigilant in our efforts to bolster child safety across Australia.”
By Daniel McCulloch