Australian Judge Extends Ban on X Sharing Video of Sydney Bishop’s Stabbing

An Australian judge extended a ban on Friday, preventing X from allowing videos of a Sydney bishop’s stabbing to circulate. This decision came after government lawyers criticized the social media company’s free speech defense for keeping the graphic images online.

Federal Court Justice Geoffrey Kennett continued his order for X Corp., rebranded by Elon Musk after purchasing Twitter last year, to block users from sharing videos of the April 15 attack. The incident led to terrorism-related charges against a teenage suspect and sparked a riot outside the church.

The order, in effect since April 22, will be reconsidered on Monday to determine if it will remain in its current form.

X stands alone among social media platforms in challenging a directive from Australia’s eSafety Commission, the world’s first government agency dedicated to online safety, to remove the video of the attack during an Assyrian Orthodox service streamed online.

Although the bishop and a priest were injured, both survived.

Musk has accused Australia of censorship and has filed an application to overturn the eSafety notice. The Federal Court will meet on Wednesday to schedule a hearing for X’s application.

While X has geoblocked Australian users from accessing the content, eSafety argues that the video can still be viewed in Australia via Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), which allow users to bypass geographic restrictions. The regulator seeks a worldwide ban on the video.

eSafety lawyer Tim Begbie described X as a “market leader in proliferating and distributing violent content and violent and extremist material” during the court session on Friday. He argued that Australia should not conform to X’s “pro-free speech stance.”

Begbie criticized X’s stance as inconsistent, pointing out that X’s own policies include provisions for global content removal. He argued that X’s position is self-serving, allowing global removal when it suits the company but resisting it when mandated by Australian law.

X’s lawyer, Bret Walker, argued that the company had taken reasonable steps to block the content in Australia, despite some glitches. He called eSafety’s demand for a global ban “astonishing” and described the notice as invalid.

Walker stated, “You don’t expect to see statutes saying the Australian Parliament will regulate what concerning Australia — that is events in Australia — can be viewed in Russia, Finland, Belgium or the United States. Not unless we want to become isolationist to a degree that is unthinkable.”

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