In 2021 the Australian government passed the Online Safety Act. This law seeks to regulate a broad range of material and behaviour online, from online bullying and harassment and the spread of abhorrent violent material to accessing pornography online. We have previously written about our concerns regarding the Online Safety Act here.
The release of the draft Industry Codes is the latest development in Australia’s online safety approach to internet regulation, which has been the source of much confusion. Under the Online Safety Act, Industry Associations are required to develop codes of practice on how tech companies should handle certain types of “harmful” material (note that not all regulated material is unlawful).
This is Phase 1 of the code-drafting process, which limits the codes to Class 1A child sexual exploitation material, pro-terror content, extreme crime, and violence) and 1B material (crime and violence, drug-related content). Once in effect, the codes will create industry-wide requirements on how to handle this material. Phase 2 will expand the scope to include additional material. You can read more about the codes, the process, and the industry associations involved here.
The codes cover an immensely broad scope — including social media, email, private messaging and SMS, gaming, dating apps, search engines, app distribution services, as well as hosting and storage providers.