26 September 2023

‘AI’ register to be real eSafety thing

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Australia’s eSafety Commissioner is to set up an online safety register to protect the risks threatened by the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

The Commissioner, Julie Inman Grant said that online safety codes and standards would cover sections of the online industry and require participants to take appropriate measures to address the risk of material including child sexual abuse material on their services in Australia.

Ms Inman Grant said the eSafety reserved its decision to register an earlier version Search Code after Microsoft and Google announced they would incorporate generative AI functionality into their internet search engine services.

She said the strengthened Search Code now required services like Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo and Yahoo to take important steps to reduce the risk that material like child abuse material is returned in search results and that AI functionality integrated with the search engines were not used to generate “synthetic” versions of this material.

She thanked industry for their cooperation and hard work in producing a Search Code that would provide safety protections for all Australians.

“I think this is a great example of how regulators and industry can work collaboratively to create safer online products,” Ms Inman Grant said.

“The use of generative AI has grown so quickly that I think it’s caught the whole world off guard to a certain degree,” she said.

“When the biggest players in the industry announced they would integrate generative AI into their search functions we had a draft code that was clearly no longer fit for purpose and could not deliver the community protections we required and expected.

“We asked the industry to have another go at drafting the code to meet those expectations and I want to commend them for delivering a code that will protect the safety of all Australians who use their products.”

Ms Inman Grant said the Search Code would come into effect six months from its date of registration.

She said the codes and standards were backed up by powers to seek enforceable undertakings and injunctions to ensure compliance.

Breaches may also be subject to civil penalties.

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