Nerida O’Loughlin (pictured), chairwoman of the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has said that the concerns of social media sites about a proposed law to stem the tide of online misinformation and disinformation are “very valid.”
Legislation proposed by communications minister Michelle Rowland, initially revealed in January but now making its way through rounds of amends and subject to a parliamentary inquiry, would give ACMA the power to enforce a voluntary code and industry standard imposed on digital platforms.
The draft legislation defines misinformation as material that is “false, misleading or deceptive” and is “reasonably likely to cause serious harm.” The definition of disinformation is largely the same except for the caveat that it is deliberately spread. Mainstream media companies are exempt from the rules.
Yesterday, Meta’s head of public policy in Australia, Josh Machin, said that the new standard and code would be open for “abuse.”
Speaking to the Select Committee on Foreign Interference through Social Media, Machin added that the law “empowers the ACMA to, for example, develop binding standards around misinformation and disinformation with some very substantial civil penalties and also criminal penalties for individuals who are involved.
“We can see some potential for that power to be abused, or for it to be used in a way that inadvertently chills free and legitimate political expression online. We’re thinking through some constructive suggestions.”
In response, O’Loughlin said that while social media sites broadly supported the new law, she acknowledged some of the concerns they had raised.
“They wanted to be engaged through this exposure draft process, and obviously Meta raised these issues about the standard and their concerns about penalties,” she said.
“I think they’re very valid concerns that they’ve raised.
“I’m not quite sure I understand the reasoning. I can say that they may self-censor – I’m not quite sure I see the reasoning behind their statement – but that’s what they’ve said that they’re thinking about and prepared to propose alternatives and submissions to the government over this exposure draft.”
O’Loughlin said that the new powers would reinforce the voluntary code of conduct that some social media sites had adopted to tackle the spread of false information online. However, she noted that some smaller platforms had not signed up for the voluntary code because of the extra regulatory burden.
“Fundamentally, what we want to be able to see is whether or not what the platforms are doing is effective at dealing with these issues,” she said.
However, the proposed law has proven to be more controversial with politicians on both sides of the aisle.
Richard Windeyer, deputy secretary of the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts, said that it would turn ACMA into a “ministry of truth” with its power to compel companies to remove content.
“That is far from the role envisaged or provided to ACMA under the provisions of this proposed bill,” he said.
“It’s not regulation of content, it is regulation of their systems and processes that they have put in place and, in a sense, by extension, their willingness to comply with the systems and processes or the adequacy of the systems and processes that they put in place.
“But fundamentally, it is not about … the ACMA having any role with respect to censoring individual pieces of content.”
Opposition communications spokesman David Coleman concurred with his political opposite.
“Officials have acknowledged that under Labor’s law something can be ‘misinformation’ even if the person making the statement holds that view in good faith and has no intention to mislead anyone,” he said.
“It’s inevitable that under this law platforms would self-censor large amounts of content so they don’t fall foul of ACMA and incur big fines. This is very likely to mean the suppression of the legitimately held views of Australians.”
Please login with linkedin to commentACMA
Independent brand and digital agency, Archibald Williams (AW) has been appointed to lead the NBA account across the APAC region. The NBA is one of the most prestigious sporting leagues in the world and basketball is one of the fastest-growing sports in Australia. Effective immediately, AW said it was “excited” to work across all digital, […]
B&T's shining a light on industry folk prior to adland. Preference given to anyone purporting actual UFO abduction.
Leading digital outdoor company QMS has announced it is the first-ever inaugural partner for Most Contagious APAC, the landmark London event by creative and strategic intelligence company Contagious, which will be showcased in Australia on Tuesday, 12 December in Sydney and Wednesday, 13 December in Melbourne. Most Contagious is an event that delivers key advertising […]
Omnicom’s data and analytics division Annalect has partnered with Meta, giving it access to Advanced Analytics (AA) – one of Meta’s privacy-focused measurement solutions – to provide Omnicom’s clients with future-proof, next-level measurement. Omnicom is the first holding company to have access to AA. AA allows advertisers to combine their first-party data with Meta’s ads […]
WPP’s AKQA has launched Fixmas.gift, an environmentally conscious AI-powered DIY assistant, affectionately known as Fixie, for a one-stop solution for all things repair. Fixmas.gift hosts an array of guides and inspiration to empower people to prolong the lives of their belongings or purchase pre-owned items that need a little love and care. Fixie can: Help […]
Marc Collister (pictured) of P2 Content Creators spills the beans on his 2024 predictions drawing from two decades of experience in the advertising, film and television industry. I’m certain it will come as no surprise that in 2024, we can expect our industry to move at breakneck speed again. With even more rapid shifts in […]
Zeno Australia has announced expanded creative design capabilities and the appointment of Jim Michell (lead image) to its senior leadership team. The new moves support strong growth in the region. Zeno Australia’s clients, including Abano Healthcare, Motorola and Yorkshire Tea, can now tap into a suite of creative design services to augment the agency’s work […]
Assembled Media, is drawing upon the creative power of TikTok Creator Marketplace to help generate unique, impactful content for iconic stationery brand, BIC. The social activation campaign titled ‘A Pen for Every Side of You’ promotes the flexibility of BIC’s 4 Colours pen and is active nationwide on the BIC Stationery TikTok account. The campaign […]
Pinterest reckons jellyfish & moody cowboys will be big in 2024. Refused to be drawn on the return of shoulder pads.
IAB Australia has launched ‘Evolution in Market Mix Modelling’, the fourth module in its Marketing Measurement Innovation Series, which has been developed by IAB Australia’s Ad Effectiveness Council. The module explores what is driving the increased use of MMM and how the technique is evolving with advances in computing power and machine learning to provide […]
Scope3, the collaborative sustainability platform leading the decarbonisation of media and advertising, announced the addition of digital out-of-home (DOOH) to its emissions measurement. With DOOH ad spending predicted to grow from $17B in 2023 to nearly $24B by 2028, measuring this channel brings us one step closer to understanding the total impact of digital advertising […]
NRF 2024: Retail’s Big Show Asia Pacific, is now open for online registrations for the main conference. Jointly organized by the National Retail Federation and Comexposium, Retail’s Big Show Asia Pacific will take place from 11 – 13 June, 2024 at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre in Singapore and is expected to draw thousands […]