Musk wins court reprieve in fight against Australian government over church stabbing videos

Musk wins court reprieve in fight against Australian government over church stabbing videos

Elon Musk, Chief Executive Officer of SpaceX and Tesla and owner of X speaks during the Milken Conference 2024 Global Conference Sessions at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California, U.S., May 6, 2024. 

David Swanson | Reuters

Elon Musk’s social media platform X won a reprieve Monday after an Australian court refused to extend a temporary order to block videos of a Sydney church stabbing.

A federal court judge has denied a bid by Australia’s online watchdog eSafety Commissioner, to extend an injunction to remove posts on X showing the violent attack of a priest in April, according to local media.

Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel was stabbed during a livestreamed sermon that was widely circulated online, racking up hundreds of thousands of views.  

Following the incident, the country’s eSafety Commissioner was granted a temporary legal injunction ordering X to hide posts that showed footage of the attack.

Tech billionaire Musk challenged the earlier court order as an assault on free speech.

“Our concern is that if ANY country is allowed to censor content for ALL countries, which is what the Australian ‘eSafety Commissar’ is demanding, then what is to stop any country from controlling the entire Internet?” Musk posted on X.

The incident provoked a fierce clash between Musk and the Australian government, including Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

In an interview last month, Albanese said Musk thinks “he’s above Australian law” and called him out for his “arrogance.”

“The e-Safety Commissioner has made a ruling. The other social media platforms all complied without complaint. This is a measure that has a bipartisan support in this country,” Albanese said at that time.

“This isn’t about censorship,” but about “decency” and Musk should “show some,” he added.

In response, Musk posted on X: “I do not think I’m above the law. Does the PM think he should have jurisdiction over all of Earth?” referring to Albanese.

“This platform adheres to the laws of countries in those countries, but it would be improper to extend one country’s rulings to other countries,” he added.

In a statement last month regarding the issue, Australia’s online regulator said it’s tough to completely remove damaging content online, especially since users continue to repost them.

Still, online safety “requires platforms to do everything practical and reasonable to minimize the harm it may cause to Australians,” the eSafety Commissioner added.