26 September 2023

eSafety reflects on first big-power year

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The eSafty Commissioner is marking a full year of expanded powers by disclosing how she put the powers to use.

The Commissioner Julie Inman Grant said the Online Safety Act 2021 expanded her Commission’s powers to make platforms and perpetrators more accountable and protect Australians from online harms, “which continued to grow rapidly”.

Ms Inman Grant said that in the past 12 months, eSafety had investigated 1,680 cyberbullying complaints and completed 16,000 investigations into child sexual exploitation material.

“On the one-year anniversary of the Act’s commencement, eSafety can disclose it issued its first End User Notices compelling recipients to remove serious cyberbullying material targeting another child,” Ms Inman Grant said.

She said End User Notices were a legal instrument available to eSafety for use at its discretion in more serious cyberbullying cases which included direct threats of harm, and non-compliance may result in enforcement action against the recipient.

“I urge everyone to be mindful of online safety ahead of the return to school, when we typically see reports of cyberbullying spike,” the Commissioner said.

“If you are a target or need more information or support, please contact us at eSafety.gov.au,” she said.

“Information is also available for concerned parents and school leaders seeking to protect their students while delivering a strong deterrent message.”

Ms Inman Grant said eSafety moved quickly to utilise new provisions that held industry to account and compel greater transparency.

“Our first legal notices issued last year under the Act’s Basic Online Safety Expectations revealed some of the world’s biggest technology companies – Apple, Meta, WhatsApp, Microsoft, Skype, Snap and Omegle – have much more work to do tackling child sexual exploitation on their platforms,” she said.

“The commencement of the Act marked the formal beginning of eSafety’s Adult Cyber Abuse scheme, which resulted in six formal Removal Notices to online service providers.

“In all cases, related material intended to cause serious harm to the target was either removed or geo-blocked from Australia.”

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