The Australian government plans to introduce legislation this year to fight “misinformation” and “disinformation” online.
The new legislation was announced by Hon. Paul Fletcher, the Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities, and the Arts, while releasing a report by the country's media watchdog the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) on the current state of disinformation and quality of news.
“ACMA's report highlights that disinformation and misinformation are significant and ongoing issues,” Minister Fletcher said.
“Digital platforms must take responsibility for what is on their sites and take action when harmful or misleading content appears. This is our Government's clear expectation – and just as we have backed that expectation with action in recently passing the new Online Safety Act, we are taking action when it comes to disinformation and misinformation.”
The legislation would give the ACMA with the powers to hold social media companies responsible for harmful posts on their posts.
The agency will also have the power to enforce industry codes and to make standards for the industry.
A Misinformation and Disinformation Action Group will also be created, from industry stakeholders across the private sector and government.
The government acknowledged the steps taken by social media companies to tackle misinformation but said more should be done to protect Australians online.
The government will consult with relevant stakeholders and introduce the bill in the second half of this year.
Citizens can let the government know what they think of the idea during an advisory period.