Children's E-Safety Commissioner and Online Safety Legislation Commences

Monday 6 July 2015 @ 12.55 p.m. | Crime | IP & Media | Legal Research

New Legislation to enhance children's online safety has taken effect from 1 July 2015. As previously reported by TimeBase, the Enhancing Online Security Legislation were developed following substantial public and stakeholder consultation, including consideration of more than 80 submissions received in response to the public discussion paper Enhancing Online Safety for Children released in January 2014.

The Commencement of the Acts 

The Enhancing Online Safety for Children Act 2015 (No. 24 of 2015) (the Act) and the Enhancing Online Safety for Children (Consequential Amendments) Act 2015 (No. 25 of 2015) both commenced the majority of their operation on 1 July 2015.

The Acts:

  • establish the Children's e-Safety Commissioner and set out the Commissioner‘s functions and powers;
  • Establish a complaints system for cyber-bullying material targeted at an Australian child; and
  • Set up a 2-tiered scheme for the rapid removal from large social media services of cyber-bullying material targeted at an Australian child, among other measures.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Communications, Paul Fletcher said:

"Today children use social media very extensively – often from the age of ten or younger.  And many children have smartphones or other devices which give internet connectivity – meaning they are often using the internet in circumstances where there is no adult supervision...Research has found that over a 12 month period, one in five children aged eight to seventeen are exposed to cyberbullying. The overwhelming message from the Australian public is that we must do more to protect Australian kids online – and that is what the Children's eSafety Commissioner has been established to do."

The Children's E-Safety Commissioner

Om 19 March 2015, Leading online safety expert Alastair MacGibbon was appointed to the role of Children's e-Safety Commissioner.

Prior to his appointment as Commissioner, Mr MacGibbon spent time in both public and private sector online leadership roles. He was previously General Manager Security at Dimension Data, a Director of the Centre for Internet Safety at the University of Canberra, as well as CEO of CREST Australia, a not-for-profit that certifies ‘white hat’ ethical hackers. For almost five years, he also headed up Trust & Safety at eBay ANZ and later eBay Asia-Pacific. He also worked as a Federal Agent with the Australian Federal Police for 15 years, and was the founding Director of the Australian High Tech Crime Centre.

Under the Act, the Commissioner has the power to investigate complaints about serious cyberbullying material targeted at an Australian child. The Act establishes a two-tiered scheme for the removal of cyberbullying material from participating social media service. 

The two Tiers of the scheme are subject to different levels of regulatory oversight:

  • Tier 1 social media services participate in the scheme on a co-operative basis; and
  • Large social media services that are declared Tier 2 services by the Minister for Communications may be subject to legally binding notices and civil penalties for non-compliance with requests from the Commissioner.

Commissioner MacGibbon said:

"Our goal is a clear one: create an online environment in which cyberbullying of children is truly unacceptable...I see this as a great opportunity to work productively with flagship social media companies such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, Yahoo! and app-based services amongst others for the benefit of Australian children...It’s clear that regular social media engagement is now a normal part of a child’s life and children need strategies to become resilient digital citizens as well as a safety net for when things go wrong."

TimeBase is an independent, privately owned Australian legal publisher specialising in the online delivery of accurate, comprehensive and innovative legislation research tools including LawOne and unique Point-in-Time Products.

Sources:

Enhancing Online Safety for Children Act 2015 (No. 24 of 2015) and consequential amendments Act as reproduced on TimeBase LawOne

Minister for Communications Media Release

Office of the Children's E-Safety Commissioner

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