Representatives of social media companies could face jail time if footage of terrorist acts is not removed as soon as it has been brought to their attention, under proposed changes the federal government will put to company executives.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Attorney-General Christian Porter and other cabinet ministers have met with representatives of Facebook, Google and other tech giants in Brisbane on Tuesday to discuss violent offences being broadcast on their platforms.
The meeting comes less than two weeks after the Christchurch mosque massacre which killed fifty people.
A video of the terror attack, in which the gunman opened fire at two mosques during Friday prayers, was live-streamed on Facebook.
Mr Morrison and ministers asked the tech executives what they're doing to prevent such footage festering online and stressed the government will take action if it doesn't believe they are going far enough.
“If they build it, if they make it, then they have to build it and make it safe,” he said.
“Building and making it safe means you can’t let a terrorist atrocity be filmed and up and posted and streamed and be online for 69 minutes ... That is not acceptable, that has to change.”
Mr Porter said many lessons were learned following the Christchurch terror attacks.
“Terrorists will use social media platforms to spread terror, violence and hate and they do it in a way where the social media platforms seem to have so little control over their content, that a 10-year-old can access live streaming of mass murder,” he said.
“If these organisations are making money out of streaming and playing content… then they have to invest significant amounts of money, effort and time into controlling content.”
On Monday, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a royal commission into the events that led to the Christchurch terror attack. The announcement follows last week’s ban on military semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles in the country.
It also comes after it was revealed Pauline Hanson’s One Nation (PHON) party asked powerful US lobby groups, including the National Rifle Association (NRA) for millions of dollars in political funding, in part to help the far-right party roll-back strict firearm regulations in Australia.
Secret recordings, uncovered by Al Jazeera, show senior PHON party figures met with the NRA representatives last year, seeking almost $30 million in political donations. The recording also reveals a candid discussion between the parties of strategies to weaken Australia’s gun laws.
Mr Morrison said he was ‘deeply concerned’ by the reports, and stressed Australia’s gun laws will not be changed.
The PM said there are many reasons to not vote for PHON.
“It’s a long list. We’ve seen some of those on display in recent times. Today we saw further evidence of that, where we have reports that One Nation officials basically sought to sell Australia’s gun laws to the highest bidders, to a foreign buyer, and I find that abhorrent.”
Cabinet minister, Simon Birmingham, called on Senator Hanson to front media on Tuesday to explain the "sickening" report.
The revelations follow recent division within the federal Coalition government over its failure to rule out preferencing PHON on how-to-vote cards.
Mr Birmingham said he is confident his party will reject extremism in all its forms.