Australian court lifts ruling forcing X to remove video of Sydney church stabbing

A federal court in Australia on Monday removed an injunction placed on X forcing to remove video of a stabbing that happened last month at the Good Shepherd Church in the Sydney suburb of Wakeley. Photo by Bianca de Marchi/EPA-EFE
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

May 13 (UPI) -- A federal court in Australia on Monday lifted a temporary injunction placed on U.S. social media giant X to force it to remove videos of last month's violent stabbing of a bishop in a terrorist attack in Sydney.

The country's eSafety commissioner, Inman Grant, was awarded the injunction on April 22, requiring X to ensure the removal of the video of Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel being stabbed during service at the Christ The Good Shepherd Church in the Sydney suburb of Wakeley on April 15.

However, a federal court or Monday rejected the government's application to extend the injunction, the commissioner said in a statement.

"Not trying to win anything. I just don't think we should be suppressing Australians' rights to free speech," X owner Elon Musk said in response to the ruling on his social media platform.

Police have declared the stabbing in which Emmanuel and three others, including the accused 16-year-old suspect, were injured a terrorist attack.

The service was live-streamed, and footage of the stabbing quickly spread online.

The eSafety commissioner said it worked with Google, Microsoft, Snap and TikTok to remove the video, but on April 16 issued what it called Class 1 removal notices to Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, and X seeking removal of the material from their platforms.

While Meta complied, X did not -- at least not to Grant's satisfaction. X has geo-blocked the video in Australia, meaning that residents of other countries can still access it through its platform and those in the Oceanic nation with the use of a VPN, meaning a virtual private network.

Musk last month had said X's concern with the Australia's request is that "if ANY country is allowed to censor content for ALL countries ... then what is to stop any country from controlling the entire Internet?"

Following the attack, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told reporters during a press conference that social media companies have a responsibility to take action when such videos are published on their platforms and that they shouldn't need the eSafety commissioner to seek legal intervention.

"The social media companies that make a lot of money out of their business have a social responsibility. And I want to see social media companies start to understand their social responsibility that they have to others as well, because that's where they get their social license," he said April 19.

"We are prepared to take whatever action is necessary to haul these companies into line. We've made that very clear because of the damage that a failure to act can have."