Coronavirus (COVID-19) updates from the Australian Government

New Online Safety Bill Introduced

The Government has introduced a new Online Safety Bill into Parliament. Keeping Australians safe online is a priority.

The Australian Government has introduced the Online Safety Bill into Parliament. The Bill sets out a modern fit-for-purpose regulatory framework for online safety in order to crack down on cyberbullying, toxic online abuse and the non-consensual sharing of images.

The Government's Online Safety Bill provides new and strengthened powers for the eSafety Commissioner to keep Australians safe online. The Bill also requires the online services industry to do more to make sure that Australians can use their services safely.

Australia's eSafety Commissioner was the first dedicated online safety regulator to be established in the world and acts as a safety net for when online services fail to keep Australians safe online.

The Bill includes a new adult cyber abuse scheme that would provide a pathway for the removal of seriously harmful online abuse when websites, social media or other online services don't remove it after a complaint. The Bill also reduces the time in which online services must delete cyberbullying or image-based abuse material from 48 to 24 hours after receiving a notice from the eSafety Commissioner.

The Bill establishes in law a set of Basic Online Safety Expectations for the online services industry, with mandatory reporting requirements that allow the eSafety Commissioner to require specific information about online harms and what service providers are doing about them.

The Bill maintains Australia's Online Content Scheme, which regulates online content in Australia. The Bill requires sections of the online services industry to create new and strengthened industry codes that meet the Government's expectations to keep users safe and also allows the eSafety Commissioner to create industry standards. In addition, the eSafety Commissioner will be empowered to issue take-down notices to sites anywhere in the world if they host seriously harmful online content such as child sexual abuse or terrorist material.

The Bill provides the eSafety Commissioner the power to require that online services provide contact or identifying information for individuals using anonymous accounts to abuse, bully or share intimate images without consent.

In concert with this Bill, the Government is delivering its 2019 election commitment to strengthen penalties for online abuse and harassment by increasing the maximum penalties in the Criminal Code, including from 3 to 5 years imprisonment for those using a carriage service to menace, harass and cause offence.

For more information about the Bill visit communications.gov.au/online-safety.