Australia, UK, Ireland, Fiji Regulators Push Online Safety Laws

Australian online regulators are working with representatives from the UK, Ireland and Fiji to create new legislation to combat cyberbullying and abusive content on social networks.

Australian e-Safety Committeethe UK telecommunications regulator Ofcom, the Irish broadcaster and Fiji’s Online Safety Commission, announced a partnership at a conference in Washington DC on Tuesday under the name of the Global Online Safety Regulators Network.

according to it strategic The network “shares information, best practices, experience, and expertise to support a harmonized or coordinated approach to online safety issues.”

eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant said:

“Today’s announcement is the first step towards making that future a reality.”

Ofcom CEO Dame Melanie Dawes said: “Global companies do not see borders as a barrier to their business models, nor should they when it comes to regulating borders.” .

Concern over eSafety’s broad powers

However, it is unclear how the network will implement its online safety policies and whether social media companies will change how they regulate their users’ content or apply free speech codes.

In 2021, the Australian government proposed legislation to force social media platforms such as Facebook to pay Australian news organizations for links shared on their sites.

Facebook responded by temporarily blocking people in Australia from accessing news stories on its platform.

February, Facebook Said While supporting eSafety’s online safety regulations, the social media giant said, We do not believe that large-scale application of cyberbullying removal schemes to private communications such as messaging and email is appropriate. “

On February 24, 2021, Mia Garlick, Director of Public Policy for Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands said:

She added that the Online Safety Act “gives a single regulator a significant level of discretion and power over online speech” and called for “clearer guidelines and greater checks and balances.”

Garlick further warned that thresholds set for adult cyberbullying schemes could “extend the eSafety Commissioner’s regulatory authority to legitimate political speech and debate.”

“Like any law, there is also a very real risk that this low threshold will capture political discourse. There is a possibility.”

The risk of political commentary being censored

In August 2022, Facebook temporarily censored and lifted a ban on an independent Australian think tank group that shared a post about men not being able to conceive after public outcry.

Women’s Forum Australia, which promotes a professional women’s approach to social and cultural issues, posted a screenshot of the following tweet on July 22nd.

Facebook removed the post days later, explaining that it “violated community standards regarding dangerous individuals and organizations,” and told women’s rights groups that the decision was “final.”

According to Facebook’s guidelines, what is defined as “hate speech” includes “content that directly attacks people based on their gender, gender, or gender identity.”

In a message to Women’s Forum Australia, Facebook said, “In retrospect, the post may have been removed due to its use of explicit language.

But after Australian media reported the issue on August 11, Facebook withdrew the ban, saying it was a mistake.

Nina Nguyen


Nina Nguyen is a reporter based in Sydney. She covers Australian news with a focus on social, cultural and identity issues. She is fluent in Vietnamese. Please contact her at [email protected]