Home > Latest News > X Wins Significant Case Against Australia eSafety Commissioner Over Bishop Stabbing Video

X Wins Significant Case Against Australia eSafety Commissioner Over Bishop Stabbing Video

In a major win for X (formerly Twitter) and its owner Elon Musk, an Australian federal court has lifted the ban on the social media platform carrying the video that showed the stabbing of Sydney Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel.

The bishop was stabbed at the Christ the Good Shepherd Church in Wakeley on April 15 during a service which was being livestreamed.

X was subsequently asked by the Australia eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant to remove 65 tweets containing video of the attack, as the commissioner deemed those videos to be “class 1” material under Australian classification law. Class 1 material depicts gratuitous or offensive violence with a high degree of impact or detail.

While X complied with that take-down notice and undertook “geo-blocking” the content for Australia, Australian users with VPNs could still watch the attack on the platform. It refused to totally remove the footage from its platform.

The decision to force X to take it down completely so that no other viewer in any country, including Australia or anywhere else in the world, resulted in a major kerfuffle and a court battle.

On Friday, barrister Tim Begbie KC, representing eSafety, told the court the material posted online showed “actual graphic and shocking moments of that attacker (allegedly) repeatedly and violently stabbing” the bishop, reported The Australian.

Barrister Bret Walker SC, representing X with law firm Ashurst, told the court it would be a “matter of real concern” if the only way X could reasonably comply with a takedown order was to remove the content for users worldwide.

In a brief court hearing on Monday morning, Federal Court Justice Geoffrey Kennett said: “In the matter which I heard on Friday, the orders of the court will be that the application to extend the interlocutory injunction granted on the 22nd of April 2024, as extended on the 24th of April, is refused, and that the cost of the application are reserved.”

The case has received much attention from around the world, including the US where free speech activists petitioned to be made part of the case while siding with X. Last week, the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) asked the Australian federal court to allow them to intervene in the case.

The issue became a political one too with Opposition Leader Peter Dutton offering a perspective last month that aligned with that of X’s point of view.

“I’d love to say that it could be taken down so that no kid across the world could watch it, (and) we strongly support the commissioner’s position in relation to taking it down so that Australians can’t view it,” he said a few weeks ago. “But we can’t pretend that Australia can dictate to other countries around the world what people see within their countries. As we wouldn’t tolerate that here, that Russia could dictate what content is seen in Australia.”

The judge who issued the orders on Monday allowing the viewing of the video within Australia is expected to deliver his reasons for doing so later today or on Tuesday. A further hearing on the case has been scheduled for Wednesday.

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