Australian regulators issued legal letters to Facebook parent company Meta, Apple Inc, and Microsoft Corp, asking them to share the platform’s strategy to combat child abuse material, or face hefty fines.
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Regulators used a law that took effect in January to force tech giants to disclose steps they took to detect and remove child abuse material within 28 days. Failure to do so could result in a daily fine of A$555,000.
Since 2021, Australia has imposed tough regulations on big tech companies, not only requiring them to pay media outlets to display their content, but also forcing over details of anonymous accounts that publish defamatory material.
Internet companies are facing regulatory pressure around the world to monitor encrypted messaging and streaming services for child abuse material without violating user privacy. The agency commissioner emphasized that these activities are no longer confined to the hidden corners of the dark web, but circulated on the mainstream platforms that children use every day.
As more companies turn to encrypted messaging services and deploy features such as live streaming, there are fears that such information will spread freely on the platform. A Microsoft spokesman said the company has received the legal letter and plans to respond within 28 days.