Due to “think of the children” moral panic, Australia passed one of the world’s most repressive Internet censorship laws in July, The Online Safety Act of 2021. We have until November 12 (extended from October 15) to stop an upcoming regulation that would make it even worse.
Here’s what the law already does:
- Treats 18+ fetish porn the same as CP/CSAM, allowing an unelected official to order it removed from any website within 24 hours
- Requires privacy-infringing age verification for access to other adult content
- Requires search engines and app stores to delete links and apps
Here’s how the new regulation would make it worse:
- It requires platforms to eliminate content that “may be” illegal or even merely “harmful”
- They must do this even on encrypted services—meaning a de facto ban on encryption
- They must crack down on anonymity through “verification of identity”
In our submission in response to the draft regulation, we write: “These restrictions could not be implemented without massively restricting both freedom of expression and privacy online. This would primarily harm the most marginalised members of society, while failing to make children safer.”
This is not the right approach. We need to invest more in solutions to abusive behavior online that aren’t about censoring speech, or circumventing the security of private communications. Unlike other countries such as Canada and Germany, Australia has no government-funded program to intervene to prevent people who are sexually interested in children from abusing in the first place. That’s where Australia should be directing its attention, if it really wants to make progress on this issue.
Use the button below to submit your concerns about the bill by November 12th!