Coronavirus (COVID-19) updates from the Australian Government

Consultation on a Bill for a new Online Safety Act

The Government is seeking submissions on an exposure draft Online Safety Bill.

Why we want your input

Online safety affects all Australians. This is your chance to have your say on updates to Australia’s online safety laws.

How you can voice your opinion

You can provide a submission through our public consultation process up until Sunday, 14 February 2021.

What will be the outcome of this consultation?

Your submission will be used to inform changes to an exposure draft Online Safety Bill.

The Issue

We are seeking feedback on an exposure draft Online Safety Bill to improve Australia's online safety legislation. The draft Bill includes:

  • the provisions in the Enhancing Online Safety Act 2015 (EOSA) that are working well to protect Australians from online harms, such as the image-based abuse scheme
  • a set of core basic online safety expectations for social media services, relevant electronic services and designated internet services, clearly stating community expectations, with mandatory reporting requirements
  • an enhanced cyberbullying scheme for Australian children to capture a range of online services, not just social media platforms
  • a new cyber abuse scheme for Australian adults, to facilitate the removal of serious online abuse and harassment
  • a modernised online content scheme, to replace the schemes in Schedules 5 and 7 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (BSA). The Bill will create new classes of harmful online content and will reinvigorate out of date industry codes to address such content
  • new abhorrent violent material blocking arrangements that allow the eSafety Commissioner to respond rapidly to an online crisis event such as the Christchurch terrorist attacks, by requesting internet service providers block access to sites hosting seriously harmful content, and
  • consistent take-down requirements for image-based abuse, cyber abuse, cyberbullying and harmful online content, requiring online service providers to remove such material within 24 hours of receiving a notice from the eSafety Commissioner.

On 24 February 2021, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP, Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts introduced the Online Safety Bill 2021 into Parliament along with the Online Safety (Transitional Provisions and Consequential Amendments) Bill 2021. An Exposure Draft of the Online Safety Bill was open for public consultation from 23 December 2020 to 14 February 2021.

Stakeholder views were considered in the final drafting of the Bill and informed changes made between Exposure Draft and introduction of the Bill. These changes included:

  • making it clear that the Bill does not cover services that are not accessible to Australians (s13A and s14);
  • adding a service provider notification scheme to the Online Content Scheme (s113A and s118A) to be consistent with the other schemes
  • strengthening accountability so that more decisions of the eSafety commissioner are subject to merits based review (s220)
  • capturing new and emerging technologies in how we define access-control systems (s5)
  • requiring the Act to be reviewed three years after it commences (s239A)
  • making it clearer when the eSafety Commissioner needs to refer matters to law enforcement (s224)
  • removing duplication of naming and shaming power from the cyber-bullying scheme so that the failure to remove cyber-bullying material on a single occasion does not trigger the power (s69—now removed);
  • aligning the definition of material depicting abhorrent violent conduct with the existing definition in the Criminal Code (s5).

Consultation on the Exposure Draft of the Online Safety Bill followed earlier consultation on the Online Safety Legislative Reform Discussion Paper, which occurred from December 2019 to February 2020.

Relevant Documentation

Exposure draft—Online Safety Bill 2020

Published 23rd Dec 2020

Download PDF (857.17 KB) Download DOC (230.09 KB)

A Bill for an Act relating to online safety for Australians, and for other purposes. This document may not meet WCAG 2.0 requirements. For an accessible copy please email, OnlineSafety@infrastructure.gov.au.

Fact Sheet—Online Safety Bill

Published 23rd Dec 2020

Download PDF (192.6 KB) Download DOC (129.84 KB)

The internet has brought great social, educational and economic benefits. But just as a small proportion of human interactions go wrong offline, so too are there risks online. By establishing proper protections to help keep Australians safe online, we can in turn help Australians to realise the substantial benefits that come from using the internet.

Online Safety Bill—Reading Guide

Published 23rd Dec 2020

Download PDF (754.25 KB) Download DOC (1.02 MB)

A Reading Guide to assist interested stakeholders with navigating and understanding the draft Online Safety Bill.

Participate

23 Dec 2020 09:00 AEDT
14 Feb 2021 17:00 AEDT
Closed

Submissions

The submissions published below have been created by third parties and may not meet WCAG 2.0 accessibility requirements. For accessible copies, please email OnlineSafety@infrastructure.gov.au.

This consultation is closed.

Submissions

Adani Australia
Document
Zen Andra
Document
yourtown
Document
Working Man
Document
WESNET
Document
Uniting Church in Australia Synod of Victoria and Tasmania
Twitter
Document
Twitch
Document
SBS
Document