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Australia’s new Online Safety Act will fine platforms that don’t remove content when ordered

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Australia has passed a new law that will force Google and other search engines to remove content or risk huge fines.

The Online Safety Act will come into effect on January 23. Sites will have only 24 hours to remove harmful content. The penalty for non-compliance is $110,000 for individuals and $550,000 for companies.

The act also applies for apps on both Android and iOS devices.

The eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant also has the authority to name and shame platforms that do not comply with content takedown requests.

Speaking to The Daily Telegraph newspaper, Inman Grant Said: “There aren’t powers like these anywhere in the world. We will use them judiciously. But we feel emboldened to tackle the worst of the worst content.”

Enforcement will apply to both local and international sites.

The Commissioner said that the focus of the act is content with the potential to cause “serious psychological or physical harm.”
Insulting someone might not meet the threshold, unless it is something that will “do more than hurt a person’s feelings.”

Before eSafety can get involved, someone has to make a complaint to the platform hosting the content.

In 2020, eSafety received about 21,000 complaints, a 90% increase from 2019.

“With these new powers, we will now be able to take real action to disrupt the trade in this distressing material and if online service providers fail to comply with our removal notices, they will face very real and significant consequences,” Inman Grant said.

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