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The On-line Safety Act 2021 (Cth) came into effect on 23 January this year.  The Act aims to provide greater protection to children and adults across online platforms and forums where people can experience harm such as cyberbullying, harassment and stalking.

Impact for Industry

The Act also increases the responsibility of online service providers for the online safety of those who use their services.

The Act also now encompasses the following providers:

  • Social media services.
  • Electronic services.
  • Designated Internet services.
  • Search engine services.
  • App distribution services.
  • Internet carriage services; &
  • Hosting services.

and requires them to develop new codes to regulate illegal and restricted content. 

These codes require the industry to:

  1. Implement a set of basic online safety expectations (BOSE), which set out the best practice for social media services to prevent online harm.
  2. Be more transparent about their safety features, policies, and practices.
  3. Establish a new benchmark for service providers to be more proactive in protecting people from abusive conduct and harmful behaviour.
  4. Have clear and easy-to-follow ways for people to lodge complaints about unacceptable use.

New Civil Penalties

These new codes are not just “nice to have” under the Act; the eSafety Commission has the power to impose new civil penalties on online service providers who do not meet their obligations.

Impact for people

The Act is designed to protect people across online platforms and forums where they can experience harm.

  • It creates an Adult Cyber Abuse Scheme for Australians 18 years and older.
  • It broadens the Cyberbully Scheme for children to include the harms that can occur on other services other than social media.
  • Updates the Image-based Abuse Scheme that allows the eSafety Commission to seek the removal of intimate images or videos shared online with the consent of the person shown.
  • It halves the time online service providers have to respond to an eSafety removal notice from 48 hours to 24.

More information on the new Act can be found at Learn about the Online Safety Act | eSafety Commissioner

While the new laws are essential in providing safe online spaces for young people and adults, we are still responsible for being good digital citizens and supporting one another.