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Gab Stands Firm Against Australia’s Censorship Demands

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After a recent censorship effort by German authorities, yet another government has demanded that free speech platform and Big Tech alternative Gab censor content that the government disapproves of. And once again, the platform is refusing to comply.

This time, the demand concerns the removal of content about one of the recent Sydney stabbings – and is part of Australia’s wider censorship drive targeting multiple social sites. And, it comes coupled with a threat of a huge fine.

Gab CEO Andrew Torba said in a blog post that the notice asked that a video showing the stabbing in the Assyrian Christ The Good Shepherd Church be removed.

It was sent by Australia’s at this point notorious, free speech suppression-wise, eSafety Commissioner, stating that “all reasonable steps” are required to be taken by platforms to “safeguard Australians at risk from online harms.”

But Gab doesn’t appear to consider censorship a “reasonable” step. And so the video – that documents the violent act, and is, Torba said, followed by “a heartfelt message” from the victim who survived the attack, Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel – remained online.

According to Torba, the reason is that despite its disturbing nature, it “serves a vital purpose in informing the public about the reality of this horrific incident,” while the bishop’s message provided the public with some context.

All this, the Gab CEO believes, means that the video is both newsworthy and in the public interest. As such, he qualified the removal notice and the threat of a fine equivalent to some half a million US dollars, “a clear violation of our users’ freedom of speech,” that he said his platform would not commit.

Torba said that instead, Gab would remain committed to free speech and leave the video on the platform, at the same time urging users to express support to the bishop (who, in the wake of his wounding, voiced strong criticism of the censorship of content covering the crime) and to his Church.

The Australian eSafety Commissioner’s fine threat is a warning that civil penalty proceedings will be launched unless the video is removed; it isn’t clear what the mechanics of realizing the threat might be, given that Gab is a US-based entity.

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