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Brownstone Institute

Medical Elites’ Disgrace Over Ivermectin

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17 minute read

From the Brownstone Institute

BY David GortlerDAVID GORTLER 

In the wake of the FDA settling a lawsuit brought against it for wantonly and aggressively smearing ivermectin, the agency has deleted its postings. That’s good, but we shouldn’t forget how egregiously it mischaracterized the drug, ignored copious evidence in its favor, and portrayed its proponents as dangerous crackpots.

About 30 months ago, America’s FDA was publishing articles with headlines like this: “Should I take ivermectin to treat COVID?” Answer: No. The agency also told Americans not to use ivermectin to prevent Covid. Then, in what became known as its infamous “horse tweet,” the FDA even patronizingly told Americans: “Seriously, y’all. stop it.

Prescribers who advocated for alternate treatments like ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine were mocked online by America’s “trusted journalists” as being part of a “right-wing conspiracy” and labeled “hucksters.” Those who didn’t demure to the Covid mRNA or other Big Pharma treatment narratives were banned, fired, and spoken harshly about around the world and into the reaches of the stratosphere in what seemed like coordinated messaging.

Many clinicians lost their jobs – at best. At worst, their reputations, practices, finances, and careers were shattered. If that was not bad enough, after losing their jobs, state medical and pharmacy boards initiated legal proceedings against their licensure, singling out their “off-label” Covid treatments, despite other off-label treatments being a near-ubiquitous component of pharmacy and medical practice.

A screenshot of a social media post Description automatically generated

Within days of FDA’s initial postings above, the American Pharmacist’s Association (APhA) the American Society of Health System Pharmacists (ASHP), and the American Medical Association (AMA) all collaborated to release a joint press release condemning doctors who prescribed ivermectin to treat Covid, but it appears that these organizations, instead of actually performing independent analysis of primary literature data, blindly regurgitated FDA, CDC, and NIH plus other government and Big Pharma talking points “strongly opposing” ivermectin use.

For generations and especially during the Covid pandemic, professionals depended on these “elite” medical groups. Some of them have existed for around 170 years and have around $150 million to $1.2 billion in assets, so they clearly had the history, personnel, and wherewithal to objectively examine published data. Even beyond that, the AMA has several floors in a skyscraper in Chicago and the APhA’s Constitution Avenue’s “landmark headquarters” is so luxuriant that it is advertised and utilized as a wedding venue.

Of course, that extravagance was paid for by millions of pharmacists, physicians, and benefactors who expected these organizations to act as a checksum and ensure excellent clinical practice standards. These medical organizations have a duty to honor their histories, responsibilities, and ethical duties to better the human condition through verified scientific evidence. Instead, they appeared to outrageously abandon their obligations from their lofty positions of respect, comfort, money, and power.

APhA, ASHP, and AMA Clinical Declarations Now Indefensible:

On March 22, the FDA rightly acquiesced and agreed to remove their anti-ivermectin postings due to 1) a lawsuit filed against them and 2) the impossible task of having to defend themselves with an overwhelming amount of data disagreeing with not only dispensing medical recommendations, but the published data backing their Covid-19 use (e.g., see below).

With that gone, the APhA, ASHP, and AMA assertions suddenly have no leg upon which to stand.

Several non-FDA links within their press releases have (unsurprisingly) also quietly vanished with no explanation. NIH references are slated to be shut down, on top of multiple FDA and CDC links already no longer working.

Ivermectin Mechanism of Action, History and Evidence:

The broad antiviral mechanism of action of ivermectin is complicated and may partially involve blocking the uptake of viral proteins, but the bottom line is that it has been shown to yield positive results in a variety of published results for Covid-19. Had APhA, ASHP, and AMA pharmacists and physicians independently examined the data, (as I, just one drug-safety analyst without fancy headquarters, have done) rather than simply parroting now-deleted narratives of others, they would have learned that ivermectin works as an antiviral.

It has an extensively proven track record of being not just safe – but astonishingly safe for a variety of viral diseases. This is not breaking or fringe science; it has been known for years. Ivermectin is such a safe and effective drug that back in 2015 it was the first drug for infectious disease associated with a Nobel Prize in 60 years.

While I have stacks of electronic files and printed materials, dog-eared and food/drink-stained, there is a most elegantly presented meta-analysis website designed by some brainy and web-savvy scientists detailing over 100 studies from over 1,000 different scientists, involving over 140,000 patients in 29 countries describing the benefit and safety of ivermectin for Covid-19 treatment. It actually appears to be more extensive than Cochrane’s outdated review of ivermectin which only examined 14 trials – and excluded seven of them from consideration.

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According to these data, consisting of smaller international publications that include real-world findings and small observational studies, ivermectin shows a statistically significant lower Covid-19 risk as detailed in the image above.

The less-positive findings associated with late treatment/viral clearance/hospitalization data cohort were associated with delayed administration. That is because any late-state use of antiviral pharmacology tends to be ineffective after hundreds of millions of viral replications have taken place – whether it’s cold sores, influenza, AIDS, or Covid-19.

ASHP, APhA, and AMA Press Releases Contradict Available Data and Clinical Practice Standards:

When the FDA scolded Americans not to use ivermectin for Covid-19, on April 25, 2021, there were 43 different published manuscripts showing its potential benefit. Around three months later, on August 21, the FDA released its infamous horse/cow tweet which implied that ivermectin was only for animals, not humans. This “doubling down” occurred as an additional 20 studies had subsequently been written detailing additional benefits for Covid-19. See the timeline below:

In the picture shown above, the BLUE circles shown are studies which detail positive ivermectin study findings and the RED circles are negative. Negative data exists, but the positive ivermectin findings outnumber them both in study quantity and study size (illustrated by the circle sizes), according to meta analysis data published at: c19ivm.org

Multiple APhA/ASHP/AMA statements ignored published scientific and clinical evidence. Specifically, statements declaring the: “Use of ivermectin for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 has been demonstrated to be harmful to patients” (bold emphasis theirs) are objectively inaccurate. I do not know on what basis those statements were made. The recommendation to healthcare professionals to …counsel patients against use of ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19, including emphasizing the potentially toxic effects of this drug” represents a departure from pharmacist and physician practice standards.

The absurdity of the latter statement is quite outrageous. Pharmacists and physicians know that all drugs have “…potentially toxic effects” so if they applied the standard of “emphasizing potentially toxic effects” while discussing every prescribed medication, few if any patients would ever take any of their medications. The APhA/ASHP/AMA discriminatory hostility towards ivermectin was not only clinically unjustified and irresponsible; it was – as far as I know – without precedent.

These anti-ivermectin talking points also benefited new Big Pharma product advancement including the rebounding, overpriced taxpayer-funded boondoggle of Paxlovid and Remdesivir, such a “safe and effective” drug that hospitals had to be heavily incentivized (i.e., bribed) to entice nurses, physicians, and hospital administrators to promote its use with a staggering 20% “bonus” on the entire hospital bill paid by our federal government. Remdesivir quickly earned the sardonic nickname of “run-death-is-near” by American Frontline Nurses and others, due to serious questions about its clinical benefit.

Why were federal agencies’ and professional organizations’ talking points against ivermectin not backed by independent, original APhA/ASHP/AMA data examinations? That question needs to be thoroughly probed with regard to potential regulatory capture within these groups.

Both then and now, those FDA webpages, postings, and tweets were not just biased. They were irresponsible in their denigrating ivermectin as an off-label treatment, which is why they are now gone.

The question is, who was worse? The FDA for overstepping its congressional authority in not just making medical recommendations, but making recommendations ignoring data, or the servile “independent” elite professional organizations exuberantly echoing a narrative?

Prescient or not, here is an excerpt of the expert panel congressional testimony to the Covid Select House Oversight Committee, explaining the FDA’s disparaging ivermectin versus promoting mRNA injections using an automobile analogy, delivered just one day prior to the FDA’s yielding to physicians’ lawsuit to remove its postings denigrating ivermectin:

Heritage Foundation on X: ““To the countries, physicians, & pharmacists who prescribed ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine, I would like to tell you right now, you were right.” Dr. Gortler obliterated the “science” Americans were expected to believe about COVID treatments and the COVID vaccine in Congress… https://t.co/UJInVqdSdb” / X (twitter.com)

Despite FDA Settlement and Data Abundance, the Press is Still Anti-Ivermectin

Even after the FDA’s about-face, on March 26, 2024, a Los Angeles Times journalist published a column calling the removal of FDA tweets “groundless” unilaterally declaring ivermectin is still “conclusively shown to be useless against COVID-19,” comparing ivermectin to “snake oil,” and describing those who advocate for it as “purveyors of useless but lucrative nostrums” …whatever that means. (Regarding the ‘lucrative’ claim, it is worth noting that since ivermectin is generic and inexpensively available, it is not ‘lucrative’ to anyone.) It also referenced ivermectin lacking “scientific validation,” even though the above-cited data abundantly indicates otherwise.

Regarding the FDA’s choice to settle its lawsuit disparaging ivermectin, the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research leadership isn’t “shooting itself in the foot” as the Times says. It seems that the FDA is indirectly attempting to prevent further embarrassment likely because it now realizes that its ivermectin assertions were wrong and outdated with every passing day. But where does that leave the APhA, ASHP, or AMA who heavily relied on these now deleted FDA links in their press releases?

The APhA, ASHP, AMA Response to the FDA’s Removal of Postings Used in Press Releases? An Embarrassing Silence:

Over a month later, and as of this publication date, none of these organizations have a single thing to say about their previous press releases quoting the now-removed FDA articles and tweets. In fact, here is an indication of their concerns: one week after the FDA acquiesced to remove its postings in ivermectin, APhA’s newly elected speaker chair and pharmacist Mary Klein is “happy danc[ing]” and giving her official acceptance speech wearing Mickey Mouse ears. ASHP’s (A/K/A “#MedicationExperts”) still shows its official page with clinicians wearing ineffective, unnecessary surgical masks despite the pandemic having ended well over a year ago and Cochrane reviews indicating that this sort of masking is almost certainly ineffective. AMA officials are making multiple posts on transgender issues and declaring climate change a public health crisis, – all while fully ignoring its impactful, incorrect, inappropriate statements on ivermectin.

Take a look:

The APhA, ASHP, and AMA have remained conspicuously silent on this topic while focusing their newsfeeds on everything but. To this day, their press releases remain online, with multiple dead links to government agencies. In blindly backing incorrect narratives pointing to removed web pages, they are now all alone in their ivermectin declarations.

Bottom line: ivermectin was and is safe, and more than likely effective for Covid when timed and dosed correctly, and under medical supervision, despite what was declared by organizations and federal officials. In fact, ivermectin’s general antiviral activity might even be helpful for bird flu (avian influenza) in animals and humans, in lieu of another novel adverse-event-ridden “warp speed” mRNA “vaccine” with an endless boondoggle of boosters.

The past and current record on ivermectin needs to be set straight. We know there is an important (but untransparent) list of who is responsible for misrepresenting published data, but will anyone be held accountable?

DISCLAIMER:  Do NOT discontinue or initiate taking ANY drug without first discussing it with a pharmacist or physician you know and trust. 

Author

  • David Gortler

    Dr. David Gortler, a 2023 Brownstone Fellow, is a pharmacologist, pharmacist, research scientist and a former member of the FDA Senior Executive Leadership Team who served as senior advisor to the FDA Commissioner on matters of: FDA regulatory affairs, drug safety and FDA science policy. He is a former Yale University and Georgetown University didactic professor of pharmacology and biotechnology, with over a decade of academic pedagogy and bench research, as part of his nearly two decades of experience in drug development. He also serves as a scholar at the Ethics and Public Policy Center

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Brownstone Institute

WHO Accords Warrant Sovereignty Concern

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From the Brownstone Institute

BY Ramesh ThakurRAMESH THAKUR 

In agreeing to undertake to implement the WHO advisories, states will be creating a new system of pandemic management under the WHO authority and binding under international law. It will create an open-ended international law obligation to cooperate with the WHO and to fund it.

On 11 March, my article criticizing what appeared to be a slow-motion coup d’état by the World Health Organization (WHO) to seize health powers from states in the name of preparing for, conducting early warning surveillance of, and responding to “public health emergencies of international [and regional] concern” was published in the Australian. The coup was in the form of a new pandemic treaty and an extensive package of more than 300 amendments to the existing International Health Regulations (IHR) that was signed in 2005 and came into force in 2007, together referred to as the WHO pandemic accords.

The two sets of changes to the architecture of global health governance, I argued, will effectively change the WHO from a technical advisory organisation offering recommendations into a supranational public health authority telling governments what to do.

On 3 May, the Australian published a reply by Dr. Ashley Bloomfield, co-chair of the WHO working group on the IHR amendments. Bloomfield was New Zealand’s Director-General of Health from 2018–22 and received a knighthood for his services in the 2024 New Year’s Honours list. His engagement with the public debate is very welcome.

Rejecting the charge that the WHO is engaged in a power grab over states, Bloomfield wrote that as a one-time senior UN official, I “would know that no single member state is going to concede sovereignty, let alone the entire 194 members.”

I bow to the good doctor’s superior medical knowledge in comparison to my non-existent medical qualifications.

Unfortunately, I cannot say the same with respect to reforms across the UN system, or sovereignty, or the relationship between “We the peoples” (the first three words of the UN Charter), on the one hand, and UN entities as agents in the service of the peoples, on the other. On medical and not health policy issues, I would quickly find myself out of my depth. I respectfully submit that on sovereignty concerns, Dr. Ashley may be the one out of his depth.

On the first point, I was seconded to the UN Secretariat as the senior adviser to Kofi Annan on UN reforms and wrote his second reform report that covered the entire UN system: Strengthening the United Nations: An Agenda for Further Change (2002). The topic of UN reforms, both the case for it and the institutional and political obstacles frustrating the achievement of the most critical reforms, forms a core chapter of my book The United Nations, Peace and Security  (Cambridge University Press, 2006, with a substantially revised second edition published in 2017).

I was also involved in a small Canada-based group that advocated successfully for the elevation of the G20 finance ministers’ group into a leaders’ level group that could serve as an informal grouping for brokering agreements on global challenges, including pandemics, nuclear threats, terrorism, and financial crises. I co-wrote the book The Group of Twenty (G20) (Routledge, 2012) with Andrew F. Cooper, a colleague in that project.

On the second point, I played a central role in the UN’s reconceptualisation of sovereignty as state responsibility and citizens as rights holders. This was unanimously endorsed by world leaders at the UN summit in 2005.

On the third point, in Utopia Lost: The United Nations and World Order (1995), Rosemary Righter (the former chief leader writer at the Times of London) quoted Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s description of the United Nations as “a place where the peoples of the world were delivered up to the designs of governments” (p. 85).

So yes, I do indeed know something about UN system reforms and the importance of sovereignty concerns in relation to powers given to UN bodies to prescribe what states may and may not do.

In agreeing to undertake to implement the WHO advisories, states will be creating a new system of pandemic management under the WHO authority and binding under international law. It will create an open-ended international law obligation to cooperate with the WHO and to fund it. This is the same WHO that has a track record of incompetence, poor decision-making, and politicised conduct. The insistence that sovereignty is not being surrendered is formulaic and legalistic, not substantive and meaningful in practice.

It relies on a familiar technique of gaslighting that permits plausible deniability on both sides. The WHO will say it only issued advisories. States will say they are only implementing WHO recommendations as otherwise, they will become rogue international outlaws. The resulting structure of decision-making effectively confers powers without responsibility on the WHO while shredding accountability of governments to their electorates. The losers are the peoples of the world.

A “Litany of Lies” and Misconceptions? Not So Fast.

Bloomfield’s engagement with the public debate on the WHO-centric architecture of global health governance is very welcome. I have lauded the WHO’s past impressive achievements in earlier writings, for example in the co-written book Global Governance and the UN: An Unfinished Journey (Indiana University Press, 2010). I also agree wholeheartedly that it continues to do a lot of good work, 24/7. In early 2020 I fought with a US editor to reject a reference to the possible virus escape from the Wuhan lab because of WHO’s emphatic statements to the contrary. I later apologised to him for my naivete.

Once betrayed, twice shy of the message: “Trust us. We are from the WHO, here to keep you safe.”

Sir Ashley was merely echoing the WHO chief. Addressing the World Governments Summit in Dubai on 12 February, Director-General (DG) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attacked “the litany of lies and conspiracy theories” about the agreement that “are utterly, completely, categorically false. The pandemic agreement will not give WHO any power over any state or any individual.”

DG Tedros and Sir Ashley do protest too much. If Australia chooses as a sovereign nation to sign them, that does not mean there is no loss of effective sovereignty (that is, the power to make its health decisions) from that point on.

This is why all 49 Republican senators have “strongly” urged President Joe Biden to reject the proposed changes. The expansion of “WHO’s authority over member states during” pandemic emergencies, they warn, would “constitute intolerable infringements upon US sovereignty.” In addition, 22 Attorneys-General have informed Biden that the WHO writ under the new accords will not run in their states.

On 8 May, the UK said it would not sign the new treaty unless clauses requiring transfer of pandemic products were deleted. Under Article 12.6.b of the then-draft, the WHO could sign “legally binding” contracts with manufacturers to get pandemic-related “diagnostics, therapeutics or vaccines.” Ten percent of this is to be free of charge and another ten percent at profit-free prices. In the latest, 22 April draft, this last requirement comes in Article 12.3.b.i in slightly softer language.

The UK wants to retain the right to use British-made products first to address domestic requirements as judged by the government, and only then to make them available for global distribution. The draft, the government fears, will undermine British sovereignty.

On 14 May, five senators and nine representatives from the Australian parliament wrote a formal letter to PM Anthony Albanese expressing deep concern over the likely prospect of Australia signing the accords that “will transform the WHO from an advisory organisation to a supranational health authority dictating how governments must respond to emergencies which the WHO itself declares.” If adopted and implemented into Australian law, they wrote, these would give the WHO “an unacceptable level of authority, power and influence over Australia’s affairs under the guise of declaring ‘emergencies’.”

“Legally Binding” vs “Loss of Sovereignty” is a Distinction without a Difference

They can’t all be part of a global conspiracy to peddle a litany of lies. The WHO is offering up a highly specious argument. Sir Ashley didn’t really engage with the substance of my arguments either. He dismissed criticism of the proposed changes as “an attempt by the WHO to gain the power to dictate to countries what they must do in the event of a pandemic” as a “misconception.”

The G20 Leaders’ Bali Declaration (November 2022, paragraph 19) supported the goal of a “legally binding instrument that should contain both legally binding and non-legally binding elements to strengthen pandemic planning, preparedness and response (PPR) and amendments to the IHR.” In September 2023, the G20 Delhi Leaders’ Declaration (28:vi) envisioned “an ambitious, legally binding WHO” accord “as well as amendments to better implement” the IHR.

Lawrence Gostin, actively involved in the negotiations, was co-author of a report last December that said containing transnational outbreaks under WHO leadership “may require all states to forgo some level of sovereignty.” A joint Reuters-World Economic Forum article on 26 May 2023 stated: “For the new more wide-reaching pandemic accord, member states have agreed that it should be legally binding.”

The WHO itself describes the IHR as “an instrument of international law that is legally-binding on 196 countries.” Last year it published a document that includes section 4.6 on “legally binding international instruments” such as a new pandemic accord.

I get the argument that sovereign states are voluntarily agreeing to this. In terms of legal technicality, it might well be more accurate, as Libby Klein suggests in her draft letter to Australian MPs, to use words and phrases like “ceding autonomy,” “yielding “effective control over public health decisions,” “outsourcing public health decision-making to the WHO,” or “offshoring our public health decision-making.” This is the legalistic distinction that Bloomfield is effectively making.

However, simply because states must voluntarily sign the new WHO accords doesn’t mean they will not be ceding sovereignty once the accords are adopted. With all due respect to Dr. Tedros and Sir Ashley, this is a distinction without a difference. Every single “legally binding” requirement will mean a transfer of effective decision-making power on health issues to the WHO. That is a curtailment of state sovereignty and it is disingenuous to deny it.

Since the creation of the United Nations in 1945, states have been required to conduct themselves increasingly in conformity with international standards. And it is the UN system that sets most of the relevant international standards and benchmarks of state behaviour.

For example, for centuries countries had the absolute right to wage wars of aggression and defence as an acknowledged and accepted attribute of sovereignty. By adopting the United Nations Charter in 1945, they gave up the right to wage aggressive wars. I am very glad they did so. Just because the surrender of this aspect of sovereignty was voluntary, it doesn’t mean there was no surrender of sovereignty.

Similarly, by signing the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), Australia and around 185 states surrendered their sovereign right to make or get the nuclear bomb. Again, I am very glad they did so.

Article 10 of the treaty does permit withdrawal after a three-month notice to other states parties and the UN Security Council:

Each Party shall in exercising its national sovereignty have the right to withdraw from the Treatyif it decides that extraordinary events…have jeopardisedthe supreme interests of its country.

Australia could still act as a sovereign state and pull out of the NPT but, absent exculpatory events, only at the reputational cost of acting illegally under international law.

North Korea first announced withdrawal from the NPT in 1993, suspended the withdrawal, withdrew in 2003, has conducted six nuclear tests since 2006, and acquired up to 50 bombs. Yet, the UN has refused to accept the withdrawal and it is still listed on the UN website as an NPT member, with the explanatory note that: “States parties to the Treaty continue to express divergent views regarding the status of the DPRK under the NPT.”

Like these two important examples, states will lose key parts of the right to exercise their sovereignty over national policy settings and decisions on health if the WHO accords are adopted. It is their sovereign right to reject the treaties now. They should exercise it before it is too late. The complications entangling the post-Brexit referendum in the UK demonstrate only too vividly how challenging it can be for a state to extricate itself from a supranational authority despite the sovereign right to do so.

The best way to allay these fears and concerns would be to return responsibility to where accountability lies: with the national government and parliament. States should learn to cooperate better in global pandemic management, not hand effective decision-making powers and authority to unelected and unaccountable international technocrats.

The Effort Should Be Put on Indefinite Hold

It is an iron law of politics that any power that can be abused, will be abused by someone, somewhere, some time in the future. For current examples of overreach by a technocrat, look no further than Australia’s eSafety Commissioner. The truly frightening thing about her example is the realisation of just how much her efforts have been deliberately embedded in a global campaign to “bureaucratise” and control the internet.

A softer conclusion is that powers once granted over citizens to authorities are far more difficult to claw back than not giving them the powers in the first place. Thus far from retreating, the Censorship-Industrial Complex is simultaneously being broadened to embrace additional sectors of governance and public policy and globalised.

report from Leeds University documented that pandemics are rare events. They are not becoming more frequent. For poor countries, their global disease burden is much lower than that of the big killer diseases like TB, malaria, and HIV/AIDS. For industrialised countries like Australia, the disease burden has been greatly reduced since the Spanish flu with improved surveillance, response mechanism, and other public health interventions.

There is no emergency justifying the rushed process. An immediate pause and a slow and deliberative process would lead to better policy development and deliver better national and global health policy outcomes.

“Pause for thought, argue for a wider delay, think it through properly. And don’t sign till it’s right.” David Frost, who led the UK Brexit negotiations.

Just so.

Author

  • Ramesh Thakur

    Ramesh Thakur, a Brownstone Institute Senior Scholar, is a former United Nations Assistant Secretary-General, and emeritus professor in the Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.

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Brownstone Institute

Musk Wins Latest Censorship Battle in Australia

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US billionaire Elon Musk, Australian eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant

From the Brownstone Institute

BY Rebekah BarnettREBEKAH BARNETT

Can Australia’s eSafety Commissioner block content globally on demand? Not today, ruled the Australian Federal Court, in a win for Elon Musk’s social media platform X.

In a decision on Monday, Justice Geoffrey Kennett refused to extend a temporary injunction obtained by eSafety last month, which forced X to remove footage of the Wakeley church stabbing, an alleged religiously motivated terror attack.

Under the Online Safety Act (2021), the eSafety Commissioner, Julie Inman Grant, has the authority to order removal of such ‘class 1 material’ within Australia under threat of hefty fines.

eSafety argued that X had not gone far enough to block the content from Australians, as a geo-block can be circumvented by a VPN. X argued that eSafety was effectively seeking a global ban on content, straying outside of the Australian online harm regulator’s jurisdiction.

eSafety applied to the Federal Court to extend its temporary injunction against X, with a hearing taking place on Friday 10 May. The temporary injunction was due to expire at 5pm on Friday, but was extended to 5pm Monday—to allow time for Justice Kennett to deliver a decision on the matter.

In his decision, Justice Kennett held that X had taken “reasonable” steps to block the stabbing content as required under Australian law, and that eSafety’s request for a global ban was not reasonable.

Therefore, “The orders of the court will be that the application to extend…is refused,” said Justice Kennett, meaning that as of 5pm Monday, the injunction is no longer effective.

In a statement on the Federal Court decision, eSafety said that the matter will return to Court for a case management hearing on Wednesday, 15 May.

Source: X

“The application for this injunction should have never been brought,” said Dr Reuben Kirkham, Co-Director of the Free Speech Union of Australia (FSU) in a statement, questioning the validity of the Commissioner’s bid to enact a global content ban on X. “The eSafety Commissioner is overreaching and behaving more like an activist than a responsible public servant.”

Dr Kirkham, who was present for the hearing, told Dystopian Down Under that he counted 12 lawyers present (seven for X, five for eSafety), which, if eSafety is ordered to pay costs, will lump taxpayers with “a considerable amount of unnecessary legal costs.”

Digital civil liberties nonprofit the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) echoes FSU Australia’s position, stating that, “no single country should be able to restrict speech across the entire internet,” and likening the Commissioner’s actions to “[using] a sledgehammer to crack a nut.”

An affidavit submitted by the EFF to the eSafety vs. X proceedings called for the Court to consider the international impact that a ruling in eSafety’s favour would have in setting a precedent for allowing one country to enforce content bans on citizens of other countries.

“If one court can impose speech-restrictive rules on the entire Internet—despite direct conflicts with laws [in] a foreign jurisdiction as well as international human rights principles—the norms of expectations of all internet users are at risk,” stated the EFF in an article summarizing the affidavit.

X’s Global Government Affairs posted about the hearing, stating, “We’re glad X is fighting back, and we hope the judge will recognize the eSafety regulator’s demand for what it is—a big step toward unchecked global censorship—and refuse to let Australia set another dangerous precedent.” At the time of publishing, no updated statement on the Judge’s decision had been issued.

Source: X

Dr Kirkham calls the Commissioner’s application to extend her injunction against X “part of a pattern where the eSafety Commissioner’s office seemingly engages in gamesmanship rather than respecting the rule of law or acting as a model litigant.”

Indeed, the ruling in X’s favour comes amidst mounting controversy over the eSafety Commissioner’s ongoing battle with X, which appears to be driven partly by Julie Inman Grant’s global censorship ambitions, and partly by personal feelings.

Inman Grant, who formerly directed Twitter’s Public Policy (Australia and Southeast Asia), has repeatedly criticized Elon Musk since his purchase of the Twitter platform in 2022.

Moreover, Musk’s advocacy for a broad interpretation of free speech on the internet conflicts with Inman Grant’s professed view of free speech as a right that needs to be “recalibrated” for online spaces.

YouTube video
For its part, X has failed to comply with routine reporting to the eSafety Commissioner’s satisfaction, leading eSafety to initiate civil penalty proceedings against X in December last year. If found non-compliant, X could be fined up to AUD $780,000 per day, backdated to March 2023, when the determination of non-compliance was made.

Perhaps the biggest controversy between X and eSafety centres on the highly charged and subective issue of gender ideology.

Inman Grant has enforced the removal of a string of posts on X questioning gender ideology, including one suggesting that men can’t breastfeed, and another about a trans-identified male who allegedly injured female players during a women’s football game in NSW.

In an internationally high-profile case, the Commissioner recently issued a removal notice over an acerbic gender-critical post by Canadian activist Billboard Chris, raising questions over whether the Government should be able to police opinions and censor statements of biological fact on the internet.

FSU Australia is currently involved in Administrative Appeal Tribunal proceedings on behalf of Billboard Chris (real name Chris Elston) against the eSafety Commissioner. Additionally, X has threatened to sue eSafety over the matter.

Source: X

Returning to the issue of the Wakeley stabbing footage, Inman Grant’s attempt to globally ban the content has been supported by the Australian Government, which leveraged the incident to call for more censorship, including the reintroduction of an unpopular misinformation bill.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has also responded to calls to address violence against women by proposing to further expand eSafety’s budget and remit, which could see deep fake pornography and “other misogynistic material” censored by the regulator.

No one will argue against explicit pornography being blocked from children’s view, but it is around the grey edges of definition creep on terms like ‘harm,’ ‘adult cyber abuse,’ and ‘misogynistic material’ where disagreements will undoubtedly kick off.

In a move of ‘no confidence’ against eSafety, FSU Australia has launched a petition to abolish the office of the eSafety Commissioner altogether, arguing that a combination of parental controls and platform incentives will suffice in keeping children safe on the internet.

A more moderate approach may be to curtail eSafety’s remit to its original function of dealing with child abuse content (as in 2015), and revenge porn (as in 2017), before the regulator’s purview and powers were significantly expanded with the introduction of the Online Safety Act in 2021.

However, in the media and political conversation, there is little appetite for a moderate approach, as conveyed in a viral guest appearance by media personality Tracey Holmes on a recent episode of the ABC’s failing show Q+A.

Calling out the double standard in the censorship conversation, Holmes told the studio audience,

“I don’t agree with any kind of censorship in a general sense. I don’t think Elon Musk is contributing to any social cohesion split inside this country. I think our mainstream media is doing enough of that. I think our politicians do enough of that…

“Of course there are fault lines everywhere, but there’s only one way you can stop those fault lines from getting bigger, and that is to have the ability to have the town square to hear different points of view…

“And I think unfortunately we’ve been fed ‘this side or that side’ for so long, people are giving up on mainstream media, that’s why they’re tuning out. That’s why they’re going to YouTube…we have let them down.”

Hopefully, some higher-ups in the corporate media tuned in to hear what Holmes had to say.

Read more about the judge’s decision

Republished from the author’s Substack

Author

  • Rebekah Barnett

    Rebekah Barnett is a Brownstone Institute fellow, independent journalist and advocate for Australians injured by the Covid vaccines. She holds a BA in Communications from the University of Western Australia, and writes for her Substack, Dystopian Down Under.

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