New online safety bill to extend reach and powers of commissioner

The Morrison Government has today introduced a new Online Safety Bill into Parliament which sets out a regulatory framework for online safety and strengthens the powers of the eSafety Commissioner.

The proposed measures in the bill are stated to have a “relatively low regulatory impact” on industry and would be of “significant benefit to the community”.


The bill includes a cyber-abuse scheme for adults to assist victims of seriously harmful online abuse to have the material removed, when online platforms fail to act. Within the bill, the cyber-bullying scheme is broadened to capture harms occurring on services other than social media, to “relevant electronic service, or designated internet service”.

Therefore, a hosting service provider or provider of an internet search engine may be given a notice requiring the provider to cease hosting certain material or to cease providing a link to certain material.

In addition, the bill seeks to articulate a core set of basic online safety expectations to improve and promote online safety for Australians; create a new complaints-based, removal notice scheme for cyber-abuse being perpetrated against an Australian adult and reduce the timeframe for service providers to respond to a removal notice from the eSafety Commissioner from 48 to 24 hours.

It will also bring providers of app distribution services and internet search engine services clearly into the remit of the new online content scheme.

Part 13 of the bill also allows the eSafety Commissioner to require social media services, relevant electronic services and designated internet services to provide identity and contact information about end users in relation to cyberbullying, cyber abuse, or image-based abuse.

Civil penalties will apply to services that fail to comply with a written notice from the eSafety Commissioner.

Minister for Communications Paul Fletcher, said that keeping Australians safe online is a priority for the Morrison Government.

“When people interact in person, they take for granted that the rule of law applies. People should be able to expect the same when they interact online,”  Fletcher said. “This bill reflects the Morrison Government’s expectation that industry must work harder to prevent online harms occurring in the first place, and introduces important new protections for Australians when things do go wrong.


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