CANBERRA, AAP – Australia’s media watchdog will soon be able to use new powers to hold tech giants to account for misinformation or harmful online content.
The federal government is set to introduce new laws to parliament later this year that would provide the Australian Communications and Media Authority with new regulatory powers to counter disinformation and misinformation.
Under the legislation, the authority would be able to enforce industry codes and hold tech companies to account to remove harmful or misleading information online should voluntary efforts prove to be inadequate.
It would also be able to use new information-gathering powers to increase transparency online, as well as improve access to Australian data on how measures to address misinformation are working.
The government is set to consult on the scope of the authority’s new powers in coming weeks, with the legislation to be introduced to parliament in the second half of the year.
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Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said misinformation online and deliberately spread disinformation was a significant and ongoing issue.
“Digital platforms must take responsibility for what is on their sites and take action when harmful or misleading content appears,” he said.
“This is our government’s clear expectation, and just as we have backed that expectation with action in recently passing the new online safety act, we are taking action when it comes to disinformation and misinformation.”
The laws would also see an action group set up to tackle the issue, bringing together key stakeholders from government and the private sector.
The legislation comes off the back of a report by the authority on how the issue was being addressed online.
The report made five recommendations, which have been welcomed by the government.