26 September 2023

Comments invited to deal with online defamation

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People across the country are being invited to have their say on new proposals to modernise national defamation laws for search engines and social media sites.

Attorney General Mark Speakman said the reforms, led by NSW, focused on the extent to which internet intermediaries should be liable for reputation-damaging material published by third party users online.

“Technology has advanced in leaps and bounds since Australia’s uniform defamation laws were drafted 18 years ago,” Mr Speakman said.

“Almost anyone can post their views on a wide range of platforms at the touch of a screen or a button,” he said.

“The real question is when search engines like Google, social media platforms like Meta and a whole range of other internet intermediaries should be liable for content posted by users.

Mr Speakman said the exposure draft amendments had been released for national public consultation following the Meeting of Attorneys-General last week.

“In considering this reform, it is critical that we balance protecting free speech with the right of individuals to seek redress in appropriate circumstances for harm caused to their reputation,” the Attorney General said.

“Australia has had uniform defamation provisions since 2005, recognising the need for consistent defamation law across Australia,” he said.

“Attorneys-General have since acknowledged the need for further reforms to modernise and focus on the responsibilities and liability of digital platforms for defamatory content published online, and other emerging issues in defamation law.”

Mr Speakman said consultation on the proposed amendments would be open until 9 September.

Information on how to have a say on the draft amendments can be accessed at this PS News link.

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