Tech Industry Gives Internet Rules One Last Go Before Commissioner Takes Over

Tech Industry Gives Internet Rules One Last Go Before Commissioner Takes Over

In November, Big Tech, represented by industry associations, proposed a number of rules for how they reckon the internet should be governed in Australia. These rules included curbing the worst of the worst: child sexual abuse and terrorism material. Unsurprisingly, Australia’s eSafety Commissioner last month said these internet rules developed by the companies, made for holding those exact companies accountable, weren’t good enough and asked they do better.

The deadline for doing better was March.

On March 10, the association published an updated draft code. And today, they’ve submitted them to eSafety.

The draft codes aim to curb class 1A and 1B “harmful content”, that which would be refused classification by the National Classification Scheme, like child abuse and terror material. Class 2 codes for adult or age-restricted content will be drafted once the codes for more harmful content are complete.

In November, the industry associations submitted eight draft rules covering different sections of the online/internet industry for registration by the eSafety Commissioner. The new codes apply to eight industry sections including social media services, websites, search engines, app stores, internet service providers, device manufacturers, hosting services, and services such as email, messaging, gaming and dating services.

“While I have not made a final decision, my preliminary view is that the draft codes we received in November are unlikely to provide the appropriate community safeguards required for them to be registered,” eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant said.

“I have written to the industry associations and encouraged them to resubmit draft industry codes with improved protections and to provide them with a final opportunity to address areas of concern.”

Under the Online Safety Act 2021, eSafety has the power to determine the codes herself, but she’s giving industry one last try.

So here we are, with another attempt, an attempt that’s now with eSafety. The second period of public consultation on the draft codes took place from 9 March until 23 March 2023. Associations contacted over 200 stakeholders, received 25 additional submissions and conducted a briefing session for stakeholders to help inform participation in the consultation period.

You can access all eight draft codes via this page.

The industry association comprises telco-focused Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA); The Software Alliance (BSA), which advocates for the software makers around the world; communications industry body, the Communications Alliance; The Consumer Electronics Suppliers Association (CESA); the Digital Industry Group Inc. (DIGI); and the videogame industry’s Interactive Games & Entertainment Association (IGEA).

We’ll now await a decision from eSafety on these internet rules.

This article has been updated since it was first published.

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