Australia's Parliament has passed legislation that could imprison social media executives if their platforms stream real violence such as the Christchurch mosque shootings.
Critics warn that some of the most restrictive laws about online communication in the democratic world could have unforeseen consequences, including media censorship and reduced investment in Australia.
The conservative Government introduced the bills in response to the March 15 attacks in Christchurch in which an Australian white supremacist apparently used a helmet-mounted camera to broadcast live on Facebook as he shot worshippers in the two mosques.
Australia's Government rushed the legislation through the last two days that Parliament sits before elections are expected in May, dispensing with the usual procedure of a committee scrutinising its content first.
"Together we must act to ensure that perpetrators and their accomplices cannot leverage online platforms for the purpose of spreading their violent and extreme propaganda — these platforms should not be weaponised for evil," Attorney-General Christian Porter told Parliament while introducing the bill.
The opposition's spokesman on the attorney-general portfolio, Mark Dreyfus, committed his centre-left Labor Party to support the bill, despite misgivings.
If the Labor wins the election, the law would be reviewed by a parliamentary committee.
The law would make it a crime for social media platforms not to remove "abhorrent violent material" quickly. The crime would be punishable by three years in prison and a fine of A$10.5 million ($11m) or 10 per cent of the platform's annual turnover.
Abhorrent violent material is defined as acts of terrorism, murder, attempted murder, torture, rape and kidnapping. The material must he recorded by the perpetrator or an accomplice for the law to apply.
Platforms anywhere in the world would face fines of up to A$840,000 if they fail to notify Australian Federal Police if they are aware their service was streaming "abhorrent violent conduct" occurring in Australia.
Arthur Moses, president of the Australian Law Council, the nation's top lawyers group, said the law could lead to media censorship and prevent whistleblowers from using social media to shine a light on atrocities because of social media companies' fear of prosecution.