24. January 2022

‘We’ve had enough with trolling’: AG Cash pressures Labor on social media crackdown


‘We’ve had enough with trolling’: AG Cash pressures Labor on social media crackdown

Attorney-General Michaelia Cash has urged federal Labor to assist the federal government’s proposed anti-trolling legal guidelines in a transparent sign the federal government desires to make its crackdown on tech giants a political problem earlier than the subsequent election.

In an unique interview with The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, Senator Cash stated there have been rising issues within the citizens about using nameless accounts on social media platforms to trash individuals’s reputations.

“This is a very simple bill that says we’ve had enough with online trolling,” Senator Cash stated. “If Anthony Albanese and Labor cannot support that then quite frankly, they are failing Australians.”

Attorney-General Michaelia Cash is leading the government’s latest foray to rein in social media giants.

Attorney-General Michaelia Cash is main the federal government’s newest foray to rein in social media giants.Credit:Dominic Lorrimer

The authorities final month unveiled a crackdown on nameless trolling on-line. Under the deliberate new legal guidelines, social media platforms will likely be compelled to have a grievance scheme that may let customers request nameless trolls’ identities or danger being accountable for defamation payouts. The authorities has stated it could be keen to fund check circumstances towards social media platforms to make sure the proposal labored.

Figures from the eSafety Commissioner, which is liable for dealing with grownup cyber abuse corresponding to harassment and menacing, present 30 per cent of casual complaints within the final 12 months have been about defamatory content material that the commissioner is unlikely to have the ability to tackle.

Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus stated social media platforms had a accountability to cease nameless customers inciting violence, spreading misinformation or defaming individuals with impunity. But he stopped wanting endorsing the federal government’s coverage, which has attracted important criticism from authorized specialists.

“This isn’t a new problem,” Mr Dreyfus stated, including the federal government had waited eight years in energy to make an announcement. “At this stage there is still not even a bill before the election, just an exposure draft which is effectively a ‘user identification’ bill for the purposes of defamation law rather than an anti-trolling bill”.

Legal specialists, together with judges, have argued the proposal would duplicate the perform of present court docket orders and risked flooding the courts with litigants.

But Senator Cash countered that the legal guidelines’ main objective was to have trolling feedback eliminated with out the courts intervening, with a single defamation case sometimes costing tons of of hundreds of {dollars} in authorized charges.

“If this can be resolved outside of a court, that is actually a good thing,” Senator Cash stated. “And the bill is being deliberately structured to encourage that.”

Social media corporations can solely keep away from legal responsibility for defamatory posts if they supply the actual identify and phone info for anybody allegedly behind the account. This may even require the consumer’s consent.

Senator Cash stated most Australians have been already snug offering their electronic mail and cellphone quantity to social media corporations. “If this means that social media companies do require that information so they can identify you, that’s not a bad thing,” stated Senator Cash, regardless of social media giants’ poor fame on transparency, privateness and information gathering.

If a consumer is unwilling to take down their remark or flip over their id, the aggrieved particular person can search a court docket order towards the social media large to reveal their identify and particulars.


A complainant can even go on to court docket and search the order. Senator Cash stated in that case it “would be a decision for the platform” to inform a consumer that somebody had sought their id.

That may trigger issues the place somebody is in search of an individual’s id for a malicious objective, corresponding to to intimidate a former home associate or a enterprise rival.

The legislation makes an attempt to handle that by permitting the court docket to refuse to make an order the place it might danger somebody’s security, a time period Senator Cash stated was intentionally broad to “encompass so much more than a physical threat.”

However, it’s unclear how that danger could possibly be established if the one who is the topic of the order is unaware it’s being sought.

“This is very much why you do put things out for comment, so you can look at the feedback and in the event that, based on the feedback, you do believe that changes or tweaks to proposed legislation should be made, you can actually look at making them,” Senator Cash stated.

The court docket can also have the flexibility to tell the consumer their id is being sought, in the same technique to present processes.

Tech giants Facebook and Alphabet, which owns search engine Google and YouTube, reacted furiously to the federal authorities’s final social media reforms which compelled them to pay for information content material.

Neither firm has declared a view on the brand new legal guidelines, that are up for public remark till late January.

But Senator Cash stated Google had been proactive in dealing with the federal government. “I am pleased with response from Google to date,” Senator Cash stated.

A Google spokesman declined to remark.

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