Australia demands tech giants share anti-abuse steps

STORY: Australia is intensifying its crackdown on Big Tech companies.

On Tuesday, its e-Safety commissioner demanded Meta, Microsoft and Apple share their strategies for stamping out child abuse material on their platforms or face penalties.

The U.S. firms have been given 28 days to details their strategies, or pay fines of US$380,000 a day.

It's the first such request under new laws which came into effect in January.

Julie Inman Grant is the commissioner:

"So we're issuing seven notices today to major technology giants and sites that we know are being used to prey upon children or are being weaponized through livestream child sexual exploitation and sexual extortion for profit. These include Microsoft, Apple, Meta, WhatsApp, Skype and Omegle, which is known as a playground for pedophiles to be hooked up randomly with young people."

The move underscores Australia's hardline approach to regulating Big Tech firms since 2021.

So far, it has introduced laws forcing them to pay media outlets for displaying their content, like news articles in a Facebook feed.

It also requires them to hand over details of anonymous accounts which post defamatory material.

A spokesperson for Microsoft said the company had received the letter and planned to respond within 28 days.

While Facebook owner Meta said it was still reviewing the letter but continued to "proactively engage with the eSafety Commissioner on these important issues."

And Apple did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.