Australia’s Electronic Safety Commissioner has issued legal notices to Apple, Meta, Microsoft and more demanding that the companies report on the steps they are taking “to combat the proliferation of child sexual exploitation material on their platforms and service”.
In a press release on Tuesday, the body said it had sent the notices “to some of the biggest tech companies in the world” asking them to report on actions taken to end online child sexual exploitation. .
The expectations would have set out “the minimum security requirements expected of technology companies wishing to operate in Australia and the steps they should take to protect Australian users from harm”.
In a statement, Australia’s e-Safety Commissioner, Julie Inman Grant, said “Basic Online Safety Expectations are a world-leading tool designed to encourage fundamental online safety practices and foster transparency and accountability from tech companies. They will help us ‘lift the hood’ on what companies are doing – and not doing – to protect their users from harm.”
She warned of the uncontrolled spread of “this horrible material” as companies move towards encrypted messaging and the rollout of live streaming.
Companies like Apple will have to respond within 28 days or could face fines of up to $555,000 a day.
Apple has tried to roll out some child protection measures on its platforms in the past with varying success.
Child protection measures announced last year have sparked controversy due to Apple’s plans to analyze iCloud Photos for hashes of known child sexual abuse material. Apple has also introduced a much less intrusive communications safety feature in Messages that can detect when children may have sent or received sexually explicit images, blurring the photo and warning the child of its possible content.
Apple delayed rolling out CSAM after a backlash later last year and has since remained silent on the matter, even removing mentions of the plan from its website.