On Tuesday, the Australian Senate passed the Online Safety Bill. Back in February, Tech Against Terrorism expressed serious concerns with the proposed legislation as part of the public consultation process. Given the Online Safety Bill entered parliament only 10 days after this public consultation closed, we are concerned that legislators have afforded insufficient consideration to the views and advice of civil society and experts.
The Online Safety Bill risks indiscriminately restricting freedom of expression online. The Bill encourages extensive takedown of legal content under the imprecise and broad definitions for “legal but harmful” speech. Moreover, the Bill has no clear references to safeguards that will protect online users from the erroneous removal of content.
The Online Safety Bill also does not explicitly refer to smaller tech companies. A diverse internet is crucial for a healthy democracy, however the Bill’s new requirements, such as the 24-hour removal and blocking deadlines and punitive financial penalties regime, will disproportionately harm smaller platforms and impact competition and innovation in the sector.
For more information on how we can support smaller platforms, see: