Australia's Turnbull Urges Internet Providers to Block Extremism

  • Prime minister slams ‘mush of moral relativism’ in speech
  • Web can’t be allowed to be an ‘ungoverned space,’ premier says

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called on internet companies to act more quickly to remove extremist content and to seek a solution to the “problem” of encrypted messages.

Malcolm Turnbull

Photographer: Niklas Hallen/AFP via Getty Images

Speaking in London after the Group of 20 agreed to work with industry on finding a solution, Turnbull told tech companies “the ball is in your court” as governments seek ways to prevent terrorists using the internet to promote and plan their activities.

“Just as the owner of a locked bank vault cannot resist the order to hand over a document,” internet companies shouldn’t be able to resist demands from law enforcement for encrypted information, Turnbull said in a speech Monday evening. “We can’t allow ungoverned spaces,” he said. “The internet must remain free and secure, but it cannot be ungoverned.”

Turnbull, who earlier met with embattled U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, echoed her call on internet companies to crack down on extremists who use their sites to recruit supporters and spread propaganda. While the web is a “transformative and democratic technology,” its freedoms shouldn’t override the need to prevent harm, he said.  

“In the fight ahead there is no space for the mush of moral relativism, there is no justification for the murder of innocent children,” Turnbull said. “You must ensure that these dark places can be illuminated by the law so that freedoms cannot be stripped away by the communications your technologies make possible.”

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