Australian authorities have ordered global tech giants to report on the actions they have taken to stop the spread of child sexual exploitation materials on their platforms and will impose penalties on non-compliant companies.
The move is in accordance with the Online Safety Act 2021, which eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant described as a "world-leading tool."
For instance, online service providers are expected to minimise harmful materials or activities on their platforms proactively. And if they use encryption, they need to develop and implement processes to detect and address child abuse materials.
"As more companies move towards encrypted messaging services and deploy features like live streaming, the fear is that this horrific material will spread unchecked on these platforms."
The eSafety Commissioner said the decision to issue a notice was an information-gathering process.
Tech Companies' Responses To The NoticesAfter receiving the notices, Microsoft said the company would give a response, while Meta said it was reviewing the details.
"The safety of our users is a top priority, and we continue to proactively engage with the eSafety Commissioner on these important issues," a Meta spokesperson said in a statement obtained by AAP.
Since 2015, the eSafety Commissioner has processed over 61,000 complaints about illegal and restricted content, most of which involved child sexual exploitation materials.
The eSafety regulator also noted that there had been a significant increase in reports about child abuse materials since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic as children had more access to the internet during the period.