Something very weird just happened in the eSafety vs X case (2024)

Hello and welcome to Screenshot, your weekly tech update from national technology reporter Ange Lavoipierre, featuring the best, worst and strangest in tech and online news. Read to the end for some truly terrible pizza advice and a singing toilet.

The eSafety vs X case just got messier

The eSafety Commissioner's fight against X over videos of the Wakeley stabbing just got messier, with two new groups granted leave to join the case.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) have pulled off a rare legal manoeuvre, winning the right to participate in Federal Court proceedings they caught wind of over in the United States.

It's another knock to eSafety, which has been trying to force Elon Musk's company to remove or hide about 65 instances of footage showing a stabbing attack on Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel since April.

To recap briefly, X initially agreed to geoblock the posts, but refused the regulator's subsequent legal notice, which would have meant global removal.

At that point, all hell promptly broke loose.

Amid an intercontinental slanging match between Anthony Albanese and Elon Musk, the Federal Court granted a temporary injunction, which X ignored, ordering the social media platform to hide the material.

The stalemate lasted more than two weeks until Justice Kennett rejected eSafety's bid to renew the injunction, after hearing arguments that the commissioner had overreached.

It was enough of a commotion to attract two American interlopers, the EFF and FIRE, who jointly applied to "intervene" in the matter on behalf of internet users outside Australia.

Their bid has mostly escaped public notice so far, but this week Justice Kennett decided the parties had a right to be heard, despite arguments to the contrary from eSafety.

Something very weird just happened in the eSafety vs X case (1)

"It's not automatic and it's quite rare in the Australian context for intervention to be granted," said Kevin Lynch, a partner at Johnson Winter Slattery, the firm representing the two groups.

"Our clients won't be arguing for one side or the other," said Lynch, adding that they're only there to bring an "international perspective".

That perspective happens to overlap significantly with the case being made by X, centring on free speech and the appropriate limits of the commissioner's powers.

"If an Australian court makes a global takedown order, it might signal to other countries that they can impose similar orders under their own laws," Lynch said.

In other words: if it can happen in Australia, there's nothing to stop it from happening in China, Russia, Myanmar or Iran.

EFF and FIRE now have a seat at the table, in recognition of the fact that this fight "has a major impact upon their interests as freedom of speech advocates", Lynch said.

I've given up guessing what will happen next here, but you can tune in again on July 24 for the next slightly more crowded bout.

News Corp zigs where others have zagged, cutting a deal with OpenAI

News Corp has decided to allowOpenAI, the maker of ChatGPT, to train its models on its journalism.

The company, which owns The Australian, Daily Telegraph and Sky News, also struck a similar dealwith Google in April.

In contrast, the ABC, The New York Times and CNN have all opted to blockOpenAI's web crawler.

Something very weird just happened in the eSafety vs X case (2)

The New York Times is even suing the company, along with ChatGPT investment partner, Microsoft, alleging a breach of copyright.

The dilemma of how to engage with AI companies has managed to split the newsroom so comprehensively because there really is an argument each way.

In the words of TJ Thomson and James Meese, writing in The Conversation, journalism may be "signing its own death warrant" by leaping into the jaws of the machine.

On the other hand, with deals like this in place, whose journalism is more likely to rise to the top in an AI-augmented search query?

Speaking of which…

Google AI says you should eat 'one small rock a day'

Another world-class AI has soiled itselfin public despite assurances from the maker that its new model is definitely toilet-trained.

Google's new "AI Overviews" tool has told people to add glue to pizzaand said geologists recommend eating "one small rock a day".

It's also been spreading dangerous misinformation and the occasional conspiracy theory.

When it comes to the global unboxing of a generative AI tool, we expect nothing lessat this point.

Google is remaining upbeat for now, telling the BBC: "The examples we've seen are generally very uncommon queries, and aren't representative of most people's experiences.

"The vast majority of AI Overviews provide high-quality information, with links to dig deeper on the web."

Granted, the rocks thing is funny. After all, it was written by satirists.

But the serious side to this is that Google, for better or worse, is still most people's gateway to the internet, and we should all be worried if it's malfunctioning.


And if it's all too much…

Then go straight to the sauce on r/pizza, the Subreddit from which Google AI looks to have scraped its now-infamous cooking tip.

Alternatively, if you're feeling brave, behold the terrible visage of Skibidi Biden.

All recipe tips, story tips and unhinged Subreddits can be sent securely via Proton Mail.

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Something very weird just happened in the eSafety vs X case (2024)
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