The Australian government has issued a draft bill outlining the legal action the regulators will take against tech firms and social media platforms providing misleading information. The bill mentioned that the regulators would impose hefty penalties on non-compliant firms.
The bill has granted the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) the powers to oversee the operation of digital platforms such as Google and Facebook. The ACMA has been mandated to ensure that digital platforms provide accurate and reliable information to the public.
Additionally, the ACMA has been tasked to deal with cases involving misinformation and disinformation on the digital platform.
Scope of Australian New Bill
According to the new bill, Australian digital platforms must submit their reports to the ACMA over a stipulated time. The ACMA must provide the public with proactive measures and a “code of practices” to address misinformation cases.
The new legislation has enabled the ACMA to set and implement critical industrial standards. Furthermore, the new bill has highlighted the legal actions the regulators will take against firms violating the set rules.
The bill underscored that for any noncompliance to the new standards, the responsible tech firms would be required to settle a court fine amounting to $4.6 million, equivalent to 6.88 million Australian dollars, or be exposed to a 5% international turnover.
In an interview with ABC, Michelle Rowland, the Federal Communications Minister, confirmed that Australia’s current labor law aims to safeguard the citizens on online platforms. Rowland observed that the new bill allows the ACMA to hold digital media accountable for misinformation. She added that the new bill would enable the ACMA team to explore what the tech firms have been doing and the measures to be taken to uphold compliance with the law.
Will the New Bill Address Misinformation?
Elsewhere the Shadow Minister of Communication for the Liberal Party, David Coleman, argued that the new bill revolves around a complex area that does not require any intervention of the policymaker or the government. Coleman mentioned that the public would demand to know the difference between misinformation and disinformation.
Per the new bill, misinformation is defined as providing the public with fake, misleading, and inaccurate information concerning a subject matter. On the other hand, the report stated that disinformation is spreading false information to cause harm.
The new bill has created mixed feelings among the Australian community. Some market critics argued that the new bill would limit their freedom of speech.
In August last year, it was reported that the Australian regulators fined Google approximately $40 million for providing the consumer with misleading information. The hefty fine imposed on Google forced Facebook to temporarily suspend Australian users from circulating their newsfeeds in February following a misunderstanding with the government concerning the new media laws.