New Albanian government laws to prevent the spread of “misinformation” could see people being brought before a watchdog body empowered to issue millions in fines.
While the laws are targeted at social media giants like Facebook and Twitter, it’s unclear whether the proposed legislation would allow the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to also fine individual podcast or website creators.
Under the bill, the ACMA would be able to fine “digital platform service providers” millions of dollars for spreading what they deem “incorrect” or “disinformation” that is also deemed “harmful.”
A ‘digital platform provider’ is defined as ‘a person who provides a digital platform service’, which includes websites.
Disinformation is defined in the bill as ‘false, misleading or misleading’ content that is likely to cause serious harm, while disinformation is defined as misinformation that is spread with deceptive intent.
Government’s proposed laws against ‘disinformation’ do not give a clear answer on who they apply to
Australia’s e-security commissioner, Julie Inman Grant (pictured), issued a legal notice on Twitter demanding an explanation of what she was doing to stop a “surge” in “hate online.”
The new laws would apply “to a wide range” of such platforms, including search engines, news aggregators, social networks and podcast services.
Under the bill, the ACMA could fine violators of the ‘code of practice’ it will establish up to $2.75 million or two per cent of global turnover.
If a violator violates an ‘industry standard’, also set by the watchdog, the watchdog can impose a fine of up to $6.8 million or five per cent of global turnover.
The government says the intention is to incentivize digital platform providers to have robust systems and measures in place to address misinformation and disinformation.
Government agencies, authorized election material or professional news content will be exempt from the proposed measures.
It is not clear whether ‘professional news providers’ would include people who finance their own journalism through sponsorships or subscriptions.
The office of the Minister of Communications has been contacted for clarification.
The bill will need the support of the Greens and two cross-bench senators to pass through the federal upper house.
UAP Victorian Senator Ralph Babet has already indicated he will oppose the laws.
“The Labor Party’s proposed Combating Misinformation and Disinformation Bill is a direct threat to our democracy,” he tweeted last Wednesday.
‘The proposed bill makes the government and its faceless bureaucrats the arbiters of truth.
“This proposal is not just a threat to free speech, but seeks to impose massive financial penalties for violations.
‘As expected, there is a provision that excludes the federal, state and local government. One rule for them and one for us.
Right-wing commentator Andrew Bolt called the proposed new laws ‘Orwellian’
Right-wing commentator Andrew Bolt called the proposed laws “Orwellian”.
“The hypocrisy of the government is staggering,” he wrote in Newscorp’s headlines on Monday.
‘Your bill says that this ban on ‘disinformation’ will not apply to the government itself or state governments.
“Then governments will be free to tell lies, but could be barred from challenging them.
‘The most obvious danger of this bill is that governments and their agencies cannot be trusted to define disinformation. They trade with misinformation all the time.
Bolt argued that the bill would give “five unelected bureaucrats…disruptive new powers to shut down important political debates.”
He noted that Mr. Albanese complained in February that “disinformation” was being pushed at Voice to create ‘confusion and cause division’
‘This bill could be used to silence anyone the political class accuses of causing such ‘division’ with their ‘disinformation,’ Bolt said.
He suggested environmental campaigners would take advantage of the bill’s injunction against disinformation or misinformation “reasonably likely to cause or contribute to serious harm” to censor anything they deem to “cause” harm to the Australian environment.
Bolt predicted that forcing media outlets and social media companies to mount costly defenses against such accusations under the threat of hefty fines would lead them to “realize that it’s much safer to ban content that disagrees with the government line.”
Shadow Communications Minister David Coleman said the bill must make it clear who the arbiters of truth are.
‘[The] the public will want to know exactly who decides whether particular content is misinformation or disinformation,” he said. the alphabeth last week.
Communications Minister Michelle Rowland denied there were sinister undertones to the bill.
She said that “the government has no intention of stifling free speech in this area.”
“The Albanian government is committed to keeping Australians safe online, and that includes ensuring the ACMA has the powers it needs to hold digital platforms accountable for misinformation and disinformation on their services,” it said earlier. of this month.
Earlier this month, Australia’s e-security commissioner, Julie Inman Grant, issued a legal notice on Twitter demanding an explanation of what she was doing to stop a “surge” of “hate online.”
“Twitter seems to be failing: it fails to confront the dark reality that the platform is increasingly being used as a vehicle to spread hate and abuse online,” Ms. Inman Grant wrote in an article on Twitter. Tech Policy Press Website.
‘eSafety received more complaints about online hate on Twitter in the last 12 months than any other platform. In fact, about a third of all eSafety complaints about online hate occurred on Twitter.’
Ms Inman Grant said she wants to know “how Twitter is enforcing its hateful conduct policy.”
She said an amnesty issued shortly after Elon Musk bought Twitter in October allowed around 62,000 previously banned accounts to start operating again.
Ms Inman Grant demanded that Twitter reveal “how many of the accounts previously banned for hate have returned to the platform and continue to perpetuate abuse on a large scale and with relative impunity.”
“We are already aware of reports that the reinstatement of some of these previously banned accounts has emboldened extreme polarizers and outrage and hate peddlers, including Australian neo-Nazis,” he wrote.
Communications Minister Rowland has been contacted for comment.