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Tech titan sues Australia over transgender fury

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Billionaire tech titan Elon Musk is taking legal action against the Australian government after e-safety commissioner Julie Inman Grant forced his tech platform X to remove an allegedly harmful post about a transgender activist.

The furor began in late February when Canadian Chris Elston criticized plans to appoint Australian trans activist Teddy Cook to a World Health Organization panel on health care delivery.

Mr Elston, who goes by the name Billboard Chris remarks described as “degrading” by the electronic security commissioner.

The post was widely viewed and shared in Australia until Ms Inman Grant sent a takedown notice to X on March 22.

“An ordinary reasonable person would conclude that it is likely that the documents were intended to cause serious harm to the complainant,” the letter states.

“This is because the documents misgender the complainant and reiterate that this point is deliberate.

“The material also contains a statement that implicitly equates transgender identity with a psychiatric problem.

“This statement is deliberately demeaning and suggests that all transgender people – and in this case the plaintiff in particular – have something wrong with their psychology because of their gender identity.”

The commissioner threatened X with a fine of up to $782,500 for refusing to remove the post within 24 hours.

X has complied with the order and the publication is no longer viewable in Australia.

But the company fought back on March 30 and announced it would challenge Inman Grant’s order in court.

“Earlier this week, Australia’s Electronic Security Commissioner ordered X, facing a fine of approximately A$800,000, to remove a user’s post,” said the company on X.

“The post criticized an individual appointed by the World Health Organization to serve as an expert on transgender issues.

“X is withholding publication in Australia in accordance with the order, but intends to challenge the order in court to protect its user’s right to free speech.”

The Australian Free Speech Union also criticized Ms Inman Grant’s decision, writing in a letter delivered to the commissioner that “Australians have the right to freely express their political views”.

“We must ask the Electronic Security Commissioner to now properly explain why he chose to censor this particular post,” the letter read.

“We are particularly concerned that this decision could constitute unjustified discrimination based on political opinions. »

In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, an eSafety spokesperson said eSafety provides a system for reporting adult cyber abuse under the Online Safety Act.

“This gives Australian adults who are targeted by seriously harmful online abuse somewhere to turn, if an online service provider fails to act on reports made to them by users,” the spokesperson said .

“Tech platforms do not always consistently enforce their own hateful conduct rules or policies, which is why Parliament voted to create the Adult Cyber ​​Abuse Scheme… so that eSafety can act as a safety net for Australian adults facing the most serious forms of online harassment and abuse.

“The law defines adult cyber abuse as material targeted at a particular Australian adult that is both intended to cause serious harm and is also threatening, harassing or offensive in any circumstances.

“If the material only meets one of these two criteria; for example, if the message is offensive but is found not to be intended to cause serious harm, it will not be considered cyber abuse against adults under the Act.

“Under the law, the term “adult cyber abuse” is reserved for the most serious abusive content intended to cause serious psychological or physical harm.

“This would include content that poses realistic threats, puts people in real danger, is excessively malicious or callous.

“eSafety can consider context and hardware collectively when assessing its overall severity.

“It is important to note that the adult cyber abuse system does not regulate hurt feelings, purely reputational damage, bad online reviews, strong opinions or jokes. »

The WHO has proposed that a 15-member group draft guidelines on healthcare for trans and gender diverse people.

In its profile of Mr Cook, the WHO writes: “Teddy Cook has over 15 years of experience in the community health and non-governmental sectors.

“Teddy is ACON’s Director of LGBTQ+ Community Health, overseeing client services and LGBTQ+ health, equity and harm reduction programs.”

The furore comes in the same week that bestselling author JK Rowling provoked British police into arresting her following the passing of new hate crime laws by the Scottish parliament.

Ms Rowling said the laws, which supporters said would protect transgender people from bigotry, would degrade free speech and women’s rights.

Read related topics:Elon Musk

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