‘Keep Australia safe’: Dystopian draft bill against ‘misinformation’ unveiled

Australian Government Draft Bill Cautions Tech and Social Media Companies

The Australian government has put forth a draft bill cautioning tech and social media companies to take down false information from their websites, or else be prepared to face hefty penalties.

The proposed draft bill would grant the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) the authority to require digital platforms like Google and Facebook to keep records of misinformation and disinformation on their sites.

These companies must provide these records to the ACMA upon request.

Additionally, the ACMA would be able to demand and enforce an industry-wide “code of practice” that brings in new methods to fight misinformation. The ACMA would be able to formulate and implement its own industry standard.

Any violation of this suggested new norm would result in tech giants facing a hefty maximum penalty with fines of up to $4.6 million ($6.88 million AUD) or 5% of their worldwide revenue. To put this into perspective, 5% of the global revenue of Meta, the parent company of Facebook, is roughly $5.3 billion ($8 billion AUD).

Minister for Communications Michelle Rowland stated in an ABC report from June 26th that the Labor government is determined to ensure the online safety of Australians.

Rowland stated that the new bill will guarantee that the ACMA has the authority it requires to make digital platforms responsible for misinformation and disinformation on their services.

Rowland stated that the bill would give the AMCA the ability to inspect the workings of the platforms and the steps they are taking to guarantee adherence.

Penalties for Not Taking Down False Information

Many are worried that the proposed law could have a major effect on freedom of expression, especially taking into account the bill’s description of false information – which is still subject to interpretation.

The draft bill characterizes misinformation as “inaccurate, deceptive, or misleading content generated unintentionally”. Disinformation is described as “misinformation deliberately spread to cause serious harm”.

David Coleman, the Shadow Minister for Communications from the Liberal Party, expressed his worries, asserting that “this is an intricate field of policy and government intervention must be prevented”.

“[The] public will be eager to find out who makes the decision as to whether a certain piece of content is misinformation or disinformation,” he added.

Debate on Freedom of Expression and Misinformation

The blame is being widely debated concerning the unsuccessful blockchain upgrade of the ASX’s CHESS system.

The public consultation period for the Communications Legislation Amendment (Combatting Misinformation and Disinformation) Bill 2023 will be concluding on Sunday, August 6.

The Australian government has been exerting considerable effort to make tech giants accountable for some time. On August 12, Google paid a fine of $40 million ($60 million AUD) for deceiving Australian consumers regarding data collection.

In February 2021, due to a disagreement with the government over proposed media bargaining laws, Facebook imposed a temporary ban on Australian users which prevented them from viewing or sharing news content on their newsfeeds.

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