Online Safety Act to tackle cyber bullying and child sex abuse

Ellen RansleyNCA NewsWire
Online safety laws designed to protect people from abuse and harm have come into effect on Sunday.
Camera IconOnline safety laws designed to protect people from abuse and harm have come into effect on Sunday. Credit: News Regional Media

Social media giants, sexual predators and online bullies have been put on notice, with Australia’s eSafety commissioner granted greater powers to police the internet.

The Online Safety Act, which passed parliament in 2021, officially came into effect on Sunday.

Changes included in the Act include a world first cyber abuse take-down scheme to better protect children and adults from online bullying.

The eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant has also been given the authority to order online platforms to remove the “worst of the worst” content – including child sexual abuse material and terrorist material – no matter where it is hosted.

PRIME MINISTER
Camera IconPrime Minister Scott Morrison has committed to making the internet safer for Australians. NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled Credit: News Corp Australia

Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said the Act also gave the eSafety Commissioner stronger “information gathering and investigative powers” to obtain identity information behind anonymous online accounts used to bully, abuse, or exchange illegal content.

Ms Inman Grant has been reappointed for another five years in the powerful role.

She said the new laws cemented her office’s role as a “world leader” in online safety.

“They place Australia at the international forefront in the fight against online abuse and harm – providing additional protections for Australians in the fight against online harms through our approach of prevention, protection, and proactive change in the online space,” she said.

eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant has been reappointed for another five years. Supplied
Camera IconeSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant has been reappointed for another five years. Supplied Credit: Supplied

Mr Fletcher said the Act was another key step in the Morrison government’s commitment to online safety.

“As more Australians work, learn and conduct business online, the government will make sure they can do so safely, and that perpetrators are being held accountable for abusive and threatening behaviour,” Mr Fletcher said.

PREMIER PRESSER
Camera IconCommunications Minister Paul Fletcher said the Act would also put big tech on notice. NCA NewsWire / Emma Brasier Credit: News Corp Australia

The Act also puts big tech on notice, with basic online safety expectations now in place, setting a new benchmark for platforms to take responsibility in protecting Australian users.

“The internet has brought immense advantages, but also new risks, and Australians rightly expect the big tech companies to do more to make their products safer for users,” Mr Fletcher said.

“Australians deserve to be able to use online platforms in the knowledge that they will be safe from vile and unacceptable online abuse, along with other dangers.”

Originally published as Online Safety Act to tackle cyber bullying and child sex abuse

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