Big Tech to put safety first – Basic Online Safety paper open for comment

29th August 2021

Social media and tech companies will be expected to protect their users from online harms such as bullying and cyber abuse under a new set of Basic Online Safety Expectations (BOSE) released for public consultation.

Federal Member for Forrest Nola Marino MP said, “I have worked for many years delivering cyber safety presentations to children, young people, and various age groups in the south west to help keep people safe from online harm. I expect social media and big tech companies to step up and deliver on community expectations.”

Under the BOSE, online providers will be subject to core expectations, additional expectation and reasonable steps to ensure the safety of users on their platforms. While core expectations include taking actions to deal with longstanding harms such as cyberbullying or kids accessing violent material, reasonable steps could include actions against such emerging risks such as ‘volumetric attacks’ where ‘digital lynch mobs’ seek to overwhelm a victim with abuse; or that products for children have the highest privacy and safety settings set as default.

Other expectations include:
• That providers take steps to prevent children accessing class 2 material such as R18+ content;
• That services do more to prevent unlawful or harmful material on anonymous accounts;
• That providers take steps against cyber-bullying, non-consensual intimate images of a person and promotion, incitement or instruction in abhorrent violent conduct; and
• That users have clear ways to make reports or complaints to services.

Australia’s eSafety Commissioner will have the power to order tech companies to report on how they are responding to these harms and issue hefty fines of up to $555,000 if they don’t respond.

“I really encourage people in our south west to have their say and let us know what your expectations are for the social media and big tech companies” said Ms Marino

Consultation is now open for all Australians to have your say on the proposed BOSE. After considering feedback, the Minister will make the final BOSE in early 2022. Submissions are open until Friday 15 October 2021.

More information, including how to participate, is available here.