Wednesday, October 27

Trolls and social media platforms face huge fines in Australia for failing to remove abusive material | Online abuse

Australian internet service providers, social media companies and other online platforms will need to remove seriously harmful, abusive or intimidating content within 24 hours or risk being blocked and fined $ 555,000 under security legislation online proposed by the federal government.

Currently, takedown notices for image-based abuse, cyberbullying, cyberbullying, and seriously harmful online content must be taken within 48 hours.

Under the Coalition bill, if a website or app ignores content removal notices such as child sexual abuse material, the e-security commissioner will require search engines and app stores to block access to those services. Websites and social media platforms will face fines of up to $ 555,000 for ignoring an address to remove trailing material, while individuals will face fines of up to $ 111,000. These are penalties that are already in place for cyberbullying of a child, but will be extended to apply to adults.

A quick website blocking power has been added to allow the commissioner to respond to crisis events online, such as the Christchurch terror attacks, by requesting Internet service providers to block access to terrorist and extremely violent content during a limited period of time.

In addition to substantial new measures to protect adults online, the bill also adds protections for children, expanding the cyberbullying scheme to allow removal of material from online games, websites, messaging services, and hosting, instead of just social media.

With strengthened information gathering powers, the electronic security commissioner could unmask the identities behind anonymous or bogus accounts responsible for online abuse or illegal content sharing. An updated online content scheme would require the industry to do more to keep users safe online through updated industry codes.

Federal Minister of Communications and Cybersecurity Paul Fletcher said “these are substantial reforms.”

“The Internet has brought great social, educational and economic benefits,” he said in a statement Wednesday. “But just as a small proportion of human interactions go wrong offline, there are also risks online. By putting in place the right protections to help keep Australians safe online, we can in turn help Australians realize the substantial benefits to be gained from using the internet. “

The proposed legislation classifies cyberbullying material directed at adults as material that a “normal and reasonable person would conclude” is “threatening, harassing or offensive” and that is likely and intended to harm an individual, for example, sharing revengeful pornography .

Extremely violent content, referred to in the bill as “hateful violent material,” is defined as any audio or visual material that records or transmits, for example, a terrorist act, murder, torture, rape or kidnapping.

The government aims to enforce these measures through a combination of infringement notices, enforceable commitments, and court orders. Guardian Australia understands that the Commissioner will build on existing cooperative relationships with service providers in the first instance. However, the commissioner can apply enforcement measures against companies abroad, as long as the alleged victim is an Australian, said a spokesman for Fletcher’s office. However, he added that current compliance with the takedown notices was high.

The publication of the bill on Wednesday key actions of the policy adopted for the 2019 elections, the government said, with submissions accepted until February 14.

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