26 September 2023

eSafety power boosted for online protection

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The eSafety Commission has been granted stronger and more expansive powers to protect Australians against online harms with the Online Safety Act 2021 coming into effect.

eSafety Commissioner, Julie Inman Grant (pictured) welcomed the commencement of the Act, which she said cemented eSafety’s role as a world leader in online safety.

“They place Australia at the international forefront in the fight against online abuse and harm – providing additional protections for Australians in the fight against online harms through our approach of prevention, protection and proactive change in the online space,” Ms Inman Grant said.

“For the past year, eSafety has been planning for the commencement of the Online Safety Act, issuing a series of regulatory guidance pieces to prepare industry and other stakeholders for how eSafety will be implementing the new legislation,” she said.

“Now the Online Safety Act has commenced, eSafety can receive reports which fall under the new legislation through our website.”

Ms Inman Grant said eSafety’s Adult Cyber Abuse Scheme for Australian adults, a stronger Cyberbullying Scheme for children and an updated Image Based Abuse Scheme all came into effect on Sunday (23 January), with the commencement of the Act.

The Commissioner said the Act also empowered eSafety to direct internet service providers to block access to certain material that promoted, incited, instructed in or depicted abhorrent violent conduct such as rape, torture, murder, attempted murder and terrorist acts.

She said eSafety could now issue penalties to online service providers who failed to comply with eSafety removal notices to take down illegal and restricted online content, with penalties of up to $111,000 per offence for individuals and $555,000 for corporations.

“Additionally, the Online Safety Act stipulates what the Australian Government now expects from online service providers,” Ms Inman Grant said.

“It raises the bar by establishing a wide-ranging set of Basic Online Safety Expectations, including that online service providers take reasonable steps to ensure that users are able to use the service in a safer manner.”

Further information on eSafety’s Adult Cyber Abuse Scheme is available in this PS report, information on its Image Based Abuse Scheme in this report and the Commission’s Cyberbullying Scheme in this report.

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