Under the new law, which passed both houses of Parliament, obligations will be placed on internet companies to stop the spread of violent material. Failure to do so could see executives face up to three years in jail, or fines of up to 10 per cent of the platform’s annual turnover, reports CNN.
The development comes in the wake of the March 15 Christchurch which was live streamed on social media by the shooter while he killed 50 worshippers in two mosques.
Platforms have struggled in the weeks since to remove copies of the video, which have been repeatedly uploaded.
“The tragedy in Christchurch just over two weeks ago brought this issue to a head,” Australian Attorney General Christian Porter said in a statement on Thursday.
“It was clear from our discussions last week with social media companies, particularly Facebook, that there was no recognition of the need for them to act urgently to protect their own users from the horror of the live streaming of the Christchurch massacre and other violent crimes, and so the (government) has taken action with this legislation.”
The law was passed with the support of the opposition Labor Party and despite strenuous objections from industry bodies and some lawmakers, who warned against a knee-jerk rush to pass legislation that could have far-reaching ramifications.
The Law Council of Australia said the legislation could have “serious unintended consequences”, CNN reported.
“Making social media companies and their executives criminally liable for the live streaming of criminal content is a serious step which requires careful consideration. Furthermore, the proposed legislation should not absolve the government taking steps to prevent crimes being live streamed,” Law Council President Arthur Moses SC said in a statement.