The eSafety Commissioner will today direct internet service providers (ISPs) to block access to eight websites that continue to provide access to the video of the Christchurch terrorist attacks or the manifesto of the alleged perpetrator.
The direction will clear the way for the ISPs to remove the blocks they had voluntarily placed on other websites that have now taken down the material independently or as a result of the Commissioner’s intervention.
“I have consulted with both the ISPs and the website administrators, giving the websites ample opportunity to remove this horrific content, and a number have complied. So those hosting this material do so in the full knowledge that Australia will take action to halt its continued proliferation,” said eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant.
“The remaining rogue websites need only to remove the illegal content to have the block against them lifted,” she said.
It is the first time the Commissioner has exercised the power to direct blocking of content.
“We cannot allow this heinous material to be used to promote, incite or instruct in further terrorist acts,” said Inman Grant.
The eSafety Commissioner’s direction will give ISPs certainty to continue their blocking, and the industry has welcomed the move.
“Industry recognised that voluntarily blocking the relevant websites in the wake of the Christchurch attacks was the right thing to do, without explicit Government direction, and we are pleased to see the framework that is now in place as a result of constructive collaboration between industry, Government and its agencies,” said Communications Alliance CEO John Stanton.
The eSafety Commissioner is continuing to work closely with the industry, including ISPs and social media companies, to develop an additional protocol for the rapid removal of extreme terrorist or violent criminal material if a similar crisis ever occurs again.
“The decision to block websites will be taken only under extraordinary circumstances and will need to meet an extremely high threshold,” said Inman Grant.
“It is some of the worst fringe sites that host such content and I make no apology for ensuring Australians are protected from exposure to it.”