Australia’s draconian laws set to shake social media

Australia's draconian laws set to shake social media

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  • Australia has proposed a new law to increase oversight and penalties for digital platforms spreading misinformation.
  • The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) would gain powers to demand records related to misinformation and disinformation from these platforms.
  • The law also provides for the creation of a code of practice, violation of which could result in penalties up to $2.75 million or 2% of global turnover.

In a significant shift in policy, the Australian government is setting its sights on social media and other digital platforms, unveiling stringent legislation that intensifies oversight and levies severe penalties for spreading misinformation.

The move could fundamentally transform how tech giants operate in the country, signaling a potential watershed moment in the ongoing global debate over online truthfulness and accountability.

Increasing power for Australia’s media watchdog

The proposed law promises to beef up the powers of Australia’s media regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

Notably, the ACMA would gain the authority to demand digital platforms to maintain records about misinformation and disinformation related matters, turning them over upon request.

This, according to Communications Minister Michelle Rowland, allows the regulator to scrutinize the actions platforms are taking to ensure compliance effectively.

Moreover, the ACMA could ask the industry to formulate a “code of practice” targeting misinformation. Violations of this code could lead to hefty fines reaching up to $2.75 million, or a staggering 2% of global turnover, whichever is higher.

To establish clarity in the application of the law, the draft bill offers definitions of misinformation and disinformation. The former refers to unintentionally false, deceptive, or misleading content, while the latter points to harmful content disseminated intentionally.

Although critics argue about the potential for government overreach and the ambiguity in determining what constitutes misinformation, Ms. Rowland assures that the government aims to protect Australian citizens and does not intend to curb freedom of speech.

To add to the litany of penalties, the ACMA is also set to be given the authority to craft and implement an industry standard. Any breaches of these standards could land companies with fines of up to $6.8 million or 5% of their global turnover, thus adding an extra layer of accountability.

Wider implications for digital platforms

Under this rigorous legislation, all digital platforms ranging from social media outlets, news aggregators, and even podcasts would fall within the ambit of the regulator’s enhanced powers.

Throughout the process of drafting the bill, the ACMA held consultations with various social media conglomerates, putting them on alert regarding their responsibilities in this sphere.

However, Ms. Rowland has made it clear that the regulator will not possess the power to remove individual pieces of content and that the new measures will not apply to professional news content.

Public consultations on this bill, officially dubbed as the Communications Legislation Amendment (Combating Misinformation and Disinformation) Bill 2023, have begun and will close on August 6.

Australia’s proposed legislation comes at a time when governments worldwide are grappling with the pervasive spread of online misinformation.

If passed, this Australian law could establish a global precedent, forcing digital platforms to reconsider their content monitoring policies, potentially instigating a significant paradigm shift in the digital world.

Disclaimer: The information provided is not trading advice. Cryptopolitan.com holds no liability for any investments made based on the information provided on this page. We strongly recommend independent research and/or consultation with a qualified professional before making any investment decision.

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Jai Hamid

Jai Hamid is a passionate writer with a keen interest in blockchain technology, the global economy, and literature. She dedicates most of her time to exploring the transformative potential of crypto and the dynamics of worldwide economic trends.

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