SPECIAL EDITION: 1 September 2022
Have your say: New Online Safety Industry Codes
We are writing to you on behalf of six industry associations that represent the online industry in Australia about new online safety codes that we are releasing for public consultation today. You are receiving this email because we believe you or your organisation may be interested in or affected by the codes, and we encourage you to provide us with your views through a submission.
Australia’s Online Safety Act 2021, which came into effect in January 2022, requires the development of codes by industry associations to regulate certain types of harmful online material, known as Class 1A and 1B material with reference to Australia’s classification scheme. This includes material promoting child sexual abuse, terrorism, extreme crime and violence, crime and violence, and drug-related content.
Once finalised, the Consolidated Industry Codes of Practice for the Online Industry, Phase 1 (class 1A and class 1B material) will be submitted for registration to the eSafety Commissioner. Registered codes are enforceable by the Commissioner. The draft codes released today have been informed by input from the Office of the eSafety Commissioner reflected in their September 2021 Position Paper.
The draft codes must cover a wide range of participants that operate in the online environment, including providers of social media, messaging, search engine and app distribution services, as well as internet and hosting service providers, and manufacturers and suppliers of any equipment that connects to the internet, including smart devices and computers. It is important to note that they also cover operators of all websites that can be accessed by Australian users.
We have launched a public consultation process today, inviting feedback on the draft codes that are available on a new consultation website at www.onlinesafety.org.au. Feedback is proactively being sought from key stakeholders including consumer organisations, a diverse range of civil society groups, academics and industry. It is a public consultation and as such we encourage you to forward this on to other relevant stakeholders who may wish to contribute.
You can download the draft codes and an accompanying explanatory memorandum at www.onlinesafety.org.au.
Submissions should be uploaded to that website, and will be accepted until October 2, 2022.
We look forward to hearing your views, and can be contacted via email@example.com should you have any questions.
Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA)
BSA | The Software Alliance (BSA)
Consumer Electronics Suppliers Association (CESA)
Digital Industry Group Inc (DIGI)
Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (IGEA)
We ask that stakeholders engaging in the consultation read the following documentation before sending a submission.
| ||Explanatory memorandum|
This memorandum is a companion document to the codes that provides information about their requirements under the Online Safety Act 2021 and as set out in the Position Paper by the Office of the eSafety Commissioner. It also contains information about the material covered in the codes and industry’s approach to their development.
Linked are the draft codes of practice. They are divided into eight schedules for different industry sections and outline a range of draft outcomes, objectives and minimum measures for each of those sections in relation to class 1A and class 1B material. Head Terms govern all of the eight schedules.
Who do the codes apply to?
The codes apply to the following industry sections, as defined under the Online Safety Act 2021
- social media services (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, TikTok);
- internet search engine services (e.g. Google Search);
- app distribution services used to download apps (e.g. Apple IOS and Google Play stores);
- internet carriage services (e.g. Telstra, iiNet, Optus, TPG Telecom);
- manufacturers and suppliers of any equipment that connects to the internet, and those who maintain and install it (e.g. of modems, televisions, phones, tablets, smart home devices, e-readers etc);
- relevant electronic services used for messaging (including SMS and MMS) services, email, and online gaming services (e.g. Gmail, WhatsApp, services);
- designated internet services that include websites and end-user online storage and sharing services (e.g. Dropbox, Google Drive); and
- hosting services (e.g. Amazon Web Services, NetDC).
How have the draft codes been developed?
The Online Safety Act 2021 requires that industry associations representing these sections develop the codes on behalf of the industry. A group of industry associations have been closely engaging with an extensive group of companies across these sections with the technical know-how and experience in managing Class 1A and Class 1B material online. We now want to hear from a broader group of public stakeholders before the codes are finalised and submitted for registration to the eSafety Commissioner.
What is Class 1A and Class 1B material?
Class 1A is any material which:
- promotes or provides instruction of paedophile activity (‘child sexual exploitation’),
- advocates the doing of a terrorist act, including terrorist manifestos (‘pro-terror’),
- describes, depicts, expresses or otherwise deals with matters of extreme crime, cruelty or violence (including sexual violence) without justification (for example, murder, suicide, torture and rape), (‘extreme crime and violence’), or
- promotes, incites or instructs in matters of extreme crime or violence (‘extreme crime and violence’).
Class 1B is any material which:
- describes, depicts, expresses or otherwise deals with matters of crime, cruelty or violence without justification (‘crime and violence’),
- promotes, incites or instructs in matters of crime or violence (‘crime and violence’),
- describes, depicts, expresses or otherwise deals with matters of drug misuse or addiction without justification (‘drug-related content’), or
- includes detailed instruction or promotion of prescribed drug use (‘drug-related content’).