The Australian government is proposing a new draft bill that holds tech and social media giants accountable for removing misinformation from their platforms. Failure to comply could result in hefty fines, reflecting the government’s commitment to online safety.
A draft bill introduced by the Australian government aims to address the issue of misinformation on digital platforms such as Google and Facebook. Under this proposed legislation, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) would be empowered to compel these platforms to maintain records of misinformation and disinformation on their services.
Companies like Google and Facebook must provide these records whenever the ACMA requests. Additionally, the ACMA would be able to establish an industry-wide “code of practice” that introduces new measures to combat misinformation. The ACMA would be responsible for creating and implementing its own industry standard.
Breaching this proposed standard would have severe consequences for tech giants, as they could face maximum penalties of up to $4.6 million (AUD 6.88 million) or 5% of their global turnover. For instance, Meta, the parent company of Facebook, could potentially face fines of approximately $5.3 billion (AUD 8 billion), equivalent to 5% of its global turnover.
Federal Communications Minister Michelle Rowland emphasized the government’s commitment to ensuring the safety of Australians online. She stated the bill would grant the ACMA the necessary powers to hold digital platforms accountable for misinformation and disinformation on their services. Rowland further explained that the bill would enable the ACMA to closely monitor and assess the measures implemented by platforms to ensure compliance.
However, concerns have been raised regarding potential implications on freedom of speech due to the bill’s broad definition of misinformation. The draft bill defines misinformation as unintentionally false, misleading, or deceptive content, while disinformation refers to intentionally disseminated misinformation aimed at causing serious harm.
Shadow Minister for Communications, David Coleman, voiced his reservations about potential government overreach and emphasized the need for clarity regarding the decision-making process when classifying content as misinformation or disinformation.
The proposed legislation is open for public consultation until Sunday, August 6. The Australian government has been actively pursuing measures to hold tech giants accountable, as seen through previous conflicts with Google and Facebook over data collection and media bargaining laws.
The Australian government’s draft bill aims to combat misinformation and holds tech giants responsible, although concerns about freedom of speech persist.