Australia’s “eSafety Commissioner” has ruled that the Facebook livestream footage showing a Hong Kong protestor being shot by police is acceptable and won’t demand that it’s removed from the internet.
The video that went viral last week showed a protestor in Sai Wan Ho shot at close range by a police officer before laying in distress on the ground.
Australia’s Morrison Government passed controversial social media laws earlier this year, making it a criminal offense for online platforms to delay in removing violent content from the internet.
The questionable laws were hastily put into place in a knee-jerk reaction to the Christchurch terrorist attacks in March, an attack which was broadcast on Facebook Live. The Christchurch terrorist’s video was watched millions of times.
Digital rights groups warned that the sloppy legislation could result in the removal of footage that is important to document human rights violations and could remove evidence that is needed to hold people accountable for their actions.
A spokeswoman for the eSafety Commissioner said in a statement to the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper that the Hong Kong video was not under investigation.
“Each item of potentially abhorrent violent material is considered on a case-by-case basis and is limited to very specific categories of material produced by a perpetrator or their accomplice,” the spokeswoman said.
“The content is unlikely to meet the threshold as it appears to be bystander footage made by a person working in a professional capacity as a journalist.”
A spokesman speaking on behalf of Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said the footage could be considered “confronting” but not “abhorrent violent material” and there was a public interest in the video being shown.