Australia blocks 8 websites showing video of New Zealand's Christchurch mosque attacks

Elias Hubbard
September 11, 2019

Internet service providers have been told to block access to websites that provide access to video of the Christchurch terrorist attacks or the manifesto of the accused Australian gunman.

Australia ordered internet providers on Monday to block eight websites that published content linked to the Christchurch mosque massacre, a first under new censorship rules. Sites including 4chan, 8chan, Kiwi Farms, Encyclopaedia Dramatica, Live Leak, Voat and Zerohedge were believed to be blocked, at least temporarily, by some or all of the ISPs.

Julie Inman Grant, Australia's eSafety Commissioner, said that in addition to prevent Australians from accessing the traumatizing content, it was important to block the websites to prevent the recruitment of other terrorists.

"They [the ISPs] didn't really have a firm legal foundation for doing so, so this direction does provide the sort of assurance that ISPs have been looking for", he said.

Last month, the government said it would create a content blocking regime for crisis events, with the eSafety Commissioner set to gain the power to force the nation's telcos to block certain content.

Under the terms of the order, these eight websites will be blocked for a further six months.

"The remaining rogue websites need only to remove the illegal content to have the block against them lifted", she said.

"When the attack happened in Christchurch, ISPs spent the first couple of days talking to the AFP, the eSafety Commissioner, the government department, the regulator, saying, 'What should we do?'" he said.

"We can not allow this heinous material to be used to promote, incite or instruct in further terrorist acts", Grant said in an emailed statement.

Mr Stanton has welcomed the direction issued by the eSafety Commissioner to keep the block on the sites.

The arrangements announced today implement a key recommendation of the report of the Taskforce to Combat Terrorist and Extreme Violent Material Online, which is a joint industry/Government group formed to develop clear and tangible actions to prevent the dissemination of terrorist and extreme violent material online. If they remove the material they can be unblocked. Australia's major telcos, including Optus, Vodafone, Telstra and TPG, ended up blocking 43 websites based off a list provided by Vodafone New Zealand, according to The Guardian. "We welcome and encourage further support for this project", a statement released at the time by the PM said.

"Digital industry will benefit from establishing a global level playing field".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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