Australian Government Set To Introduce World’s Toughest Anti-Troll Legislation

Australian Government Set To Introduce World’s Toughest Anti-Troll Legislation

The Federal Government’s hunt for trolls is on, faceless trolls who spread hate and anger online will be targeted by a raft of new legal measures that will force tech giants to identify perpetrators.

In a move to keep Australian’s safe online, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a new bill that will strengthen defamation laws and come after anonymous trolls.

Prime Minister Morrison passionately took issue with the internet continuing to exist as some Wild West frontier where harmful and corrosive actions could take place without reprimand.

He said, “The rules that exist in the real world must exist in the digital and online world.”

So, under the proposed laws which are expected to be unveiled later this week, people who believe they have been defamed online would be able to obtain a court order that forces social media companies to reveal who is responsible for the creation of derogatory posts.

Should social media companies refuse to or be unable to identify the makers of defamatory posts, they would then be liable to pay victims defamation costs.

More specifically, social media companies would need to establish a complaints process, so that people could ask for content to be taken down if they felt like it was defamatory towards them. Upon review if the post is not taken down, users could then ask for the personal details of the person who posted the supposedly defamatory content.

At this point court orders can be made which force companies to release alleged trolls’ details thus opening avenues for complainants to sue for defamation.

However, confident that this is a counterintuitive misstep, Reset Australia believes the federal government’s plans to expose online trolls won’t resolve the scourge of hatefulness that’s become such commonplace online.

In a statement, Reset Australia’s executive director wrote, “The most pressing problem here is not trolls, it is the disproportionate reach of their content enabled by the algorithms of social media companies that prioritise sensational, outrageous and conspiratorial content – the form which defamatory content usually takes.”

“Forcing social media companies responsible for coughing up the identity of individuals does not hold the platforms accountable for their profit-making amplification that enables that content to go viral.”

Though as reported by The Guardian, cyberhate expert and author of the book Troll Hunting, Ginger Gorman, to the contrary said the legislation won’t do enough to combat online abuse.

“Overall, I’d say this is far too little too late – so much real harm has already been done. And this doesn’t go far enough,” Gorman said.

“The government must legislate a duty of care, so the public has to be kept safe by the platform. They are continually publishing egregious content and have no accountability for this.”

Despite facing some criticism, Prime Minister Morrison has stood firm on the Coalitions position saying that “Free speech is not being allowed to cowardly hide in your basement and sledge … and harass people anonymously and seek to destroy their lives.”

“That is cowardice — and there is no place for that in this country.”

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