In a new social media crackdown, the Australian government plans to introduce new laws that will unmask anonymous online trolls.
The Morrison government will hand Australian courts the power to order tech giants to identify perpetrators or risk bearing the cost of defamation payouts themselves.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison told media:
“They have that responsibility. They have created this world. They have created the space, and they need to make it safe, and if they won’t, we will make them laws such as this, and I will campaign for these all around the world as I have done on so many other occasions with Australia taking the lead.”
He added that there is no place for “cowardice” in Australia.
“Free speech is not being allowed to cowardly hide in your basement and sledge … and harass people anonymously and seek to destroy their lives.”
Attorney-General Michaelia Cash told the media that if the legislation passes, online trolls will not be allowed to hide behind anonymous accounts.
“We will also put in place another mechanism for people who are subject to defamatory comments. They will be able to apply to the Federal Court of Australia for an end user discloser order.”
Under the new Australian laws, people who believe they have been defamed online will also be able to get court orders forcing social media giants to reveal who is responsible for the posts.
Twitter and Facebook will now need to create a complaints scheme that will allow victims of trolling to know if the comments were made in Australia.
If found so, the victim will be able to obtain the contact details of the troll, with their consent.
If consent is not given by the poster then the victim can get a new form of the court order.
This new order, “End-user Information Disclosure Order”, will allow a social media company to unmask trolls without consent.