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Aussie Internet watchdog flags crackdown on social media abuse

Canberra, Australia | THE INDEPENDENT |    Australia’s eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant has called for social media giants to take responsibility for the content on their platforms.

Under changes to the Online Safety Act proposed by the Australian government, Inman Grant would have the power to prevent cyber abuse, identify anonymous account owners and enforce online safety expectations.

The changes, announced in December, would give Inman Grant the power to force companies including Facebook, Twitter and Google to remove harmful content within 24 hours.

“There’s more that they (social media companies) can do in terms of their intellectual capability, their access to advanced technology, their vast financial resources, to come up with better systems to identify who’s on their platforms and violating their terms of service,” Inman Grant told Nine Entertainment newspapers on Wednesday.

“And even beyond that they need to do a better job at enforcing their own policies. They’re the only entities that can see all the signals, in terms of who might be being targeted at scale or whether an account setup was done simply for the purposes of trolling.”

Inman Grant worked on U.S. legislation that gives Internet platforms immunity from liability for content posted by their users while she worked at Microsoft in the 1990s but said that regulations must be revised.

“This has practically given the platforms what we call intermediary immunity, or a safe harbour,” she said.

“It gives them a free pass not to take liability for user generated content. They haven’t had to take responsibility for abuse that’s happening on their platforms. But I think the pendulum is going to shift the other way.”



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