Internet Law and Policy in Australia

Australia's Online Safety Act strengthens internet laws, making service providers responsible for user safety. Know more about Australian Law and Policy in detail.

7 minutes read

Just like all the other countries, there is internet law in Australia, which every internet service provider and individual must follow.

In Australia, the Internet was introduced back in 1989 when a connection was created between the computer at the University of Hawaii and the University of Melbourne. This connection was established with a satellite link of 56Kbps.

Since then, the Internet has transformed into a basic component in the regular economic and social life of all Australians. The Aussies are intensive and enthusiastic users of all digital communications technologies.

Based on a 2016 survey,  Australia has the 2nd highest rate of internet uptake across the globe, with a 93% of the population actively utilizing the Internet. The nation also has the 2nd highest rate of mobile phone owners, which is 77% of the country’s population.

Things to Know About the Australian Broadcasting Authority

ABA [Australian Broadcasting Authority] is the main enterprise that is responsible for handling internet content regulation in the country. This company administers the “co-regulatory” scheme, which was made by the Broadcasting Services Act 1992.

Here, the co-regulatory scheme is known as the policy that underscores the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, and the industry must become a regulatory partner with ABA.

The complaints mechanism is known as the primary tool, which is used by ABA for internet regulation. Australian Broadcasting Authority can also refer materials to OFLC [Office of Film and Literature Classification].

The material gets accessed by ABA and gets classified through the Classified Board according to the reference to all the standards set in the classification codes and legislation of Australia.

“Schedule 5” from the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 allows ABA several functions, which are:

  • Liaising with all the relevant international bodies Investigating complaints on the internet content
  • Encouraging the development of codes of practice for the internet sector, monitoring and registering compliance with all these codes.
  • Provide information and advice to the entire community about internet safety against different types of internet frauds, especially the ones related to children using the Internet.
  • Conducting research on internet usage-related problems and then information to the Minister and himself about all the relevant trends.

The primary objective of the online safety law in Australia is to address all the concerns related to the community about illegal and offensive material on the Internet. One of the biggest community concerns is to protect children from materials that are not ideal for them.

Another issue that the scheme addresses is racism in the online platform. This concerns both potentially unlawful and offensive materials, such as games, music, etc.

Besides that, the regulatory policy is applied to all those materials which can easily be stored and are not for real-time communications or activities conducted through the Internet. Games will also get downloaded and sampled to check whether or not it’s harmful or illegal.

Furthermore, ABA will not regulate real-time discussions, activities, or emails because they don’t fall under the “internet material” category, which can be archived or stored.

Getting to Know about the Online Safety Act 2021

Professional Internet Lawyer in Perth have said that Australia has introduced many internet-related laws so that people can browse through the Internet safely. Among all the other laws, the most recent one is “Online Safety Act 2021”.

This particular law makes all the current laws for online safety in Australia five times stronger and more expansive at the same time.

It’s important to stay updated with all the advances in technology and also with the threats that people get to experience online due to toxic content and harmful behaviour. In this modern era, where changes occur at a rapid pace, social upheaval requires new laws.

This is where “Online Safety Act 2021” comes in and cements eSafety’s role as the leader for online safety across the globe. They have placed the country at the global vanguard to contest against online harm.

For Australians, What Does Online Safety Act 2021 Mean?

Internet law lawyers have pointed out that the Online Safety Act 2021 has implications for all service providers online. This is because it makes them responsible for the online safety of all those individuals who utilize their services.

The Act will provide “eSafety,” the authority protects all citizens, including children and adults, from all the online forums and platforms where individuals get to face a lot of harm.

The Online Safety Act also wants all industries to create new codes so that they regulate restricted and illegal content online. This is pointed towards all the harmful materials, such as videos that display acts of terrorism or sexual abuse of children.

The Act also wants industries to create codes that will keep children away from inappropriate content like nudity and high-impact violence.

Where Do the New Codes Settled by Industries Gets Applied?

There are certain types of codes that every industry in Australia must create. All these codes will become compulsory and will apply to several sections of the online sector. These are:

  • Suppliers and manufacturers of equipment are utilized to gain access to the online services and people who have maintained and installed the equipment.
  • All the social medial platforms
  • Search engines
  • Internet service providers
  • Electronic messaging services
  • Hosting service providers
  • Application distribution services.

When the codes get registered, the service providers and other platforms online have to identify and eliminate all the harmful content. They also have to create more measures in the industry so that children stay away from content like pornography.

Besides that, the Online Safety Act 2021 will also enable eSafety to impose industry-based standards. It can do so when the service providers online don’t reach an agreement on the new codes or when they make codes that possess proper safeguards.

Examples of the Online Safety Act 2021

There are several examples that the Online Safety Act have mentioned, and the industry codes might have to deal with them. Some of these examples are:

  • Every segment of the sector promotes awareness of all the safety procedures and problems from managing all the harmful and malicious content online.
  • The service providers online can tell all the adults and parents who are responsible for their children how they can control and supervise their access to all the materials in the online platform.
  • The online service providers can also tell all the users about their rights when they wish to make a complaint.
  • These service providers all follow several procedures to deal with all the complaints made by the users.

All the codes are enforceable by civil injunctions and penalties to ensure that all the services providers online get to follow them without fail. When they follow these codes, a lot safer and more legal content will become available on the online platform so that both children and adults and see them.

Ending Note

Internet usage across Australia is done every day. There are individuals who have multiple social accounts; some conduct businesses and others just casually browse through the Internet to perform various other activities.

Internet laws help in protecting all online users from illegal and harmful content. That way, they can make it a safer and more protected environment for all the children.

You can speak to professional Internet lawyers to learn more about the various Internet laws and policies if you’re planning to offer Internet-related services.

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