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An Australian Court has officially denied a request from the country’s cyber safety regulator to continue blocking access to a video depicting a violent attack at a church, despite the regulator’s plea for further action.

Federal Court Judge Geoffrey Kennett dismissed the bid to extend the injunction against the social media giant X, previously known as Twitter. The judge announced that the detailed reasons for his decision would be made public at a later time.

The video in question captured the moment when a bishop was stabbed during a sermon in Sydney on April 15. Initially, the Federal Court had responded to the urgency of the situation by supporting the eSafety Commissioner’s order to remove 65 posts featuring the footage. This move was intended to prevent the spread of explicit violence online. However, the platform chose to geo-block the content for Australian users instead of removing it globally, arguing the importance of maintaining a universal standard across the internet.

The decision has led to a significant legal and public dispute involving high-level exchanges between Elon Musk, the owner of X, and senior Australian officials, including Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. The Prime Minister labeled Musk “an arrogant billionaire” after Musk posted memes that criticized the Australian government’s attempts to regulate the content as an act of censorship. Unlike X, other platforms like Meta quickly complied with the regulator’s requests to take down the content.

In response to ongoing concerns about the efficacy of geo-blocking, given that a quarter of Australians reportedly use VPNs to bypass such restrictions, the Australian government is taking broader steps to address the issue. Last week, Prime Minister Albanese’s administration announced plans for a parliamentary inquiry aimed at exploring the extensive influence and minimal oversight of social media on public discourse in Australia. 


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