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The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications released an exposure draft of the Online Safety Bill in late December 2021 for consultation.

ACCAN provided a submission in response, welcoming the Bill’s move to improve Australia's online safety regulatory regime and shift the onus of responsibility for protection from online harm away from consumers back onto online platforms and services.

ACCAN agreed that some form of pre-emptive and preventative action is needed to protect all consumers from online harms, including those who are most vulnerable (e.g. children and seniors).

In particular, ACCAN welcomed the following measures introduced by the draft Online Safety Bill:

  • A world first cyber-abuse take down scheme for Australian adults and an expanded cyber-bullying scheme.
  • An expanded children’s cyber-bullying scheme beyond social media to enable the removal of material from the full range of online services where children are now spending time including messaging apps, interactive games, websites and live-streaming, messaging and hosting services.
  • A reduction in the timeframe for online service providers to take down image-based abuse, cyber-abuse, cyber-bullying and seriously harmful online content from 48 to 24 hours.
  • More power for the the eSafety Commissioner to enforce removal of seriously offensive online content (e.g. child sex abuse material) using civil penalties and quickly block websites hosting abhorrent violent or terrorist material during an online crisis event.
  • The introduction of a set of legislated Basic Online Safety Expectations to guide industry to protect consumers online.
  • An updated Online Content Scheme to better reflect the modern digital environment.

 

In addition, ACCAN submitted that:

  • Adequate additional funding would be required to enable the eSafety Commissioner to fulfil any expanded role regulatory role; and
  • Robust and transparent review and appeal processes must be in place to mitigate against the risk of unintended consequences of a take-down order, to avoid situations where websites are incorrectly blocked, or the wrong content removed.

 

Download: docx Online Safety Bill submission95.27 KB

Download: pdfOnline Safety Bill submission145.38 KB