back to article Australia's social media censorship law – for the children - all-but passes

The Enhancing Online Safety for Children Bill 2014 has passed Australia's Senate, meaning the nation now has a regime for compelling social networks to remove material deemed to represent bullying of children. The Bill defines bullying material as “… intended to have an effect on a particular Australian child ... likely to …

  1. P. Lee Silver badge

    … intended to have an effect on a particular Australian child

    So, "boat people" are fair game then!

    And don't respond within 48 hours? Because bullying only hurts if its in your news feed for longer than two days?

    Don't get me wrong, my view is, if you're being bullied, the government isn't going to be able to help anyway. However, if you're going to try to do something, at least attempt to do something which might be effective.

  2. Steven Roper

    I don't see how this is censorship

    All this law is doing is essentially extending existing harassment and abuse laws into the social media space. It's pretty specific that the material to be removed must be directly targeted at a particular Australian child before it can be the subject of a complaint - that is, it has to refer to or address an actual person, and consist of an attack on, or harassment of, said person.

    I don't see any way in which, say, advocates of political correctness could use this law to take down anti-feminist or anti-progressive commentary, for example, since such commentary is generally not targeted at specific individuals. In fact, laws like this could well be used against such individuals, since the standard MO of PC advocates is to harass and attempt to smear and ruin the lives of those who disagree with them.

    Facebook lynch-mobbing and the media-induced hounding of individuals for the sake of sensationalism has become a serious problem that needs to be addressed, and this law is a step in the right direction. Preventing targeted and directed harassment and abuse of individuals is not censorship. It's straightforward civilised behaviour.

    1. rtb61

      Re: I don't see how this is censorship

      "ER" Children should not be playing with random adults in any way shape or form. Children do not belong on forums with adults. So let me get this straight, it is now illegal to target specific children with advertising on forums where that advertising could be deemed to be harmful or make them feel bad as a result of say a lack of the product.

      OK this will be class action fun.

      Of course not, trained professionals with doctorate in psychology can specifically target children in any way shape or form as long as 'PROFITS' and regardless of harm.

    2. tlhonmey

      Re: I don't see how this is censorship

      Ah, but in traditional harassment law, the penalties are applied to the harassor, not to the owner of the communication medium through which the harassing communication passes. This law is the equivalent of imposing a fine on the telephone company for not being able to prevent obscene voicemails from getting through.

      As for how someone could use it for censorship: It's easy. Say you have a Facebook page I don't like. This law doesn't apply to it, but I file a complaint anyway. First several with Facebook (which will ignore them because I'm just being an ass) followed by one with the AU government that Facebook is ignoring it. Facebook then has to dig out its lawyers and audit logs and pay associated costs for an investigation (which finds nothing.) Technically they could sue me, but it's pretty easy to do all this from a false, untraceable identity.

      So, I've just cost Facebook a few thousand dollars defending itself from a spurious allegation regarding your page.

      Now I do it all again. And again. And again. With modern technology I can have a steady stream of complaints rolling in, possibly even from valid identities depending on how much I want to pay for it.

      Facebook's reaction to these tactics in the past has been pretty consistent. Your page will be removed. They don't care about free speech. They won't continue to pay thousands of dollars a month in legal bills to stand up for you just on principle. Your page will be gone without my ever having to reveal who I am. And I can continue to use these tactics against you wherever you attempt to host your content next as long as they have some presence in Australia.

      Plus there's the fact that the goal here isn't endgame censorship. The goal is to get the people to regard the government telling them what they can and can't post or read on the Internet as normal by starting with something that most people don't have a problem with. They'll come around for another nibble of your free speech next year.

  3. corestore

    Canute Syndrome

    This will of course affect all the vastly popular social networking sites that are based in... Australia.

    Australian law isn't presently enforceable in Menlo Park or Mountain View, or indeed against anyone not located in Australia.

    Hence, Canute.

    1. James Ashton

      Re: Canute Syndrome

      If you seriously think that a company that takes as many advertising dollars for Australian consumers as, for example, Facebook doesn't have a business presence here well ... Trust me, the Australian government would be able to extract the fines if it comes to that. See:

  4. rtb61

    So why are children allowed in unsupervised venues because junk food and toy advertising. Why simply an age ban because junk food and toy advertising. Why no proper social media venues for children because they would have to ban targeted junk food and toy advertising for the real harm that it does. You have some really sick bastards in charge of governments around the world completely bought out by lobbyists.

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