Australia’s media regulators will be able to force Internet companies to provide internal data on how they have handled misinformation and misinformation, the country’s government’s latest move to crack down on Big Tech.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) will be able to enforce an Internet industry code on non-cooperating platforms, the federal government said Monday, joining governments around the world to reduce the spread of harmful online lies.
The proposed legislation is in response to an ACMA report which found that four-fifths of Australian adults have experienced misinformation about COVID-19 and 76 per cent felt that online platforms should do more to reduce the amount of false and misleading content shared online.
The laws are in line with Europe’s efforts to curb harmful online content, which is expected to take effect by the end of 2022, although the European Union has said it wants tougher measures to stop confusion over some claims by Russia’s state-owned media. Invasion of Ukraine.
The crackdown also comes as Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison faces a tough federal election next month, with his Conservative Liberal Party-led coalition currently trailing the main opposition Labor Party in the election.
“Digital platforms must take responsibility for what they have on their site and take action if harmful or misleading content is displayed,” Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said in a statement.
The ACMA report says Australians are likely to see inaccurate information on larger services such as Meter Facebook and Twitter Inc. False narratives typically began with “highly emotional and compelling posts within small online conspiracy groups” and were “spread by international influential, local public figures and media coverage,” he added.
The report further noted that the confusion, which involved deliberately spreading false information or sowing discord to influence politics, continued to target Australians. Facebook has removed four promotional campaigns in Australia from 2019 to 2020, it said.
The report noted that conspiratorial groups often urged people to join small platforms with relaxed restraint policies, such as the Telegram. If these platforms reject industry-set content guidelines, “they could present a high risk to the Australian community,” the ACMA said.
DIGI, an Australian industry body representing Facebook, Alphabet’s Google, Twitter and video site TikTok, said it supported the recommendations and noted that it had already set up a system to process complaints about misinformation.
Thomson Reuters 2022