Tough anti-trolling laws on card to protect children and women from cyber bullies: PM Morrison

“Our plan will ensure parents can protect their kids online with strong parental controls, help to prevent harm by raising awareness in every school and improve our support for those harmed online."

To protect children, women and families online a re-elected Morrison Government will bring in groundbreaking legislation.

Cyber security experts belive it will significantly enhance eSafety capability in schools, ensuring strong parental controls are available on devices and legislating tough anti-trolling laws.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the Coalition had stood up to big tech and social media giants to make Australia a world-leader in online safety, but there was much more to be done.

“Our kids should be able to learn, be entertained, or connect with their friends and family without facing abuse, humiliation or online predators,”

the Prime Minister said.
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“The online world cannot be a cowards’ cavern where the rules of the real world do not exist.

“Big tech and social media giants must be held to account. Our plan will force them to do more – they cannot create it, and wash their hands of all consequences of it.

“Our plan will also ensure parents can protect their kids online with strong parental controls, help to prevent harm by raising awareness in every school, and improve our support for those harmed online.

“We have achieved so much in the online world, but there is much more to be done, and only a Coalition Government will stand up to big tech and social media giants.”

The Coalition’s policy includes:

  • A $23 million eSafety Schools package to raise awareness of the eSafety Commissioner’s support across every school in Australia, provide training programs for teachers, new and improved online safety resources for schools and enhance the Trusted eSafety Provider Program that connects schools with external online safety providers that meet high standards.
  • Ensuring smartphones and tablet devices have strong parental controls installed that are easier to find and activate (particularly when first setting up a device) and harder for kids to bypass, through a binding industry code under the Online Safety Act. If industry doesn’t act within 12 months, we will regulate to force them.
  • $10 million for the eSafety Commissioner to further expand coordination with other regulatory and law enforcement agencies, ensuring victims ‘tell-us-once’ and are supported into the right service, so they spend more time recovering and less time in bureaucracy. 
  • Legislating the Social Media (Anti-Trolling) laws to ensure social media companies are held accountable as publishers and Australians are given more power to deal with harmful defamatory comments from anonymous trolls. 
  • Supporting online safety in multicultural Australia by earmarking $2 million under the Online Safety Grants for projects that support women and girls in CALD communities.

Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts Paul Fletcher said the Government’s principle is that the same rules and laws that apply in the real world should also apply in the digital world.

“The online world should not be an ungoverned space,”

Minister Fletcher said.

“The internet has brought incredible benefits for us all, but we will continue to remain vigilant to protect our children from some of the toxic harms they can confront when online.”

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These announcements build on the Coalition’s strong track-record in online safety. In 2015 we established the world’s first eSafety Commissioner to protect children from bullying and harmful content. We have significantly expanded eSafety’s powers through the Online Safety Act, including introducing the world’s first scheme to remove harmful cyber-abuse of adults.

Other recent initiatives include:

  • The announcement of new laws combatting harmful misinformation;
  • Drafting of new laws to improve online privacy and ensure social media companies give primary consideration to the best interest of the child when handling their personal information;
  • Establishment of a House Select Committee inquiry into social media and online safety, with its recommendations now before the Government;
  • $16.6m towards Women’s Safety Online to establish a new telephone service to provide support for women and children experiencing technology-facilitated abuse;
  • $10m towards boosting support for online safety NGOs, with organisations such as the Daniel Morcombe Foundation and Alannah and Madeline Foundation already supported under the program;
  • $5m for eSafety to expand its national awareness campaign, bringing total funding for the current campaign to $10 million;
  • A new Online Safety Youth Advisory Council; and
  • Updates to Australia’s Classification System to protect children against content such as loot boxes in video games and to address content that sexualises children or depicts suicide and violence against women and children. 

To find further resources and tools on online safety and support for removing online bullying, abuse or harassment, visit: www.esafety.gov.au.