Government reviews online safety legislation

eSafety Commissioner to be scrutinised

The federal government has commissioned independent reviews of key online safety legislation, communications minister Senator Mitch Fifield announced today.

One review will focus on the Office of the eSafety Commissioner.

The government in 2015 established the Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner. The remit of the office was initially expanded in December 2015 and then in 2017 the government introduced legislation to transform it into the Office of the eSafety Commissioner.

The increased responsibilities of the commissioner include addressing the non-consensual sharing of intimate images (‘revenge porn’).

In January 2017 Julie Inman-Grant was appointed to a five-year term as commissioner.

In addition to working to promote online safety, the office administers the ‘rapid removal’ scheme for social media services and the end-user notice regime, which are initiatives to tackle cyber bullying.

The second review will focus on the Online Content Scheme, established by Schedule 5 and 7 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992.

The scheme is a complaints-based mechanism for taking down Australian-hosted content that is RC (refused classification) or rated X18+, rated R18+ (unless it is subject to a “restricted access system”), or rated MA15+ and provided on a commercial basis unless it is subject to a restricted access system.

(For content hosted outside Australia, the eSafety Commissioner can notify filtering software vendors of the content so it can be added to their block lists.)

Both reviews will be conducted by Lynelle Briggs.

“The reviews will ensure we continue to have the right controls and support systems in place to protect Australians against harmful online content and ensure people can confidently participate in the online environment,” Fifield said in a statement.

“We are focused on ensuring we have the right measures in place to address illegal or offensive content, and that the Office of the eSafety Commissioner has the appropriate powers to help Australians if and when they need it.”

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Tags online safetycyber bullyingOffice of the eSafety Commissioner

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