Strict measures created to penalise tech companies who fail to halt the dissemination of violent content online are set to be pushed through parliament following Labor’s announcement it will set aside its concerns and support the Morrison government’s social media legislation.
In the wake of the Christchurch attack, last weekend Scott Morrison revealed plans to introduce laws that would make it a criminal offence for online platforms who fail to quickly remove “violent material”, such as videos of terrorist attacks, rape, kidnapping and murders.
Shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus yesterday confirmed Labor would not oppose the legislation, despite concerns about its rushed timeline and introduction in parliament.
The SMH reported Dreyfus said: “Labor has serious concerns that this bill has been poorly drafted and will not achieve its intended purpose.
“[But] Labor will not stand in the way of this bill, despite our concerns.”
Morrison revealed the laws would see executives at social media platforms facing up to three years of jail time should they breach the proposed new laws, while tech companies could face multibillion-dollar fines of up to 10 per cent of their yearly global turnover.
The bill is expected to enter the Senate today, with only two sitting days left for the House of Representatives before an election is due.
Earlier during the week, Dreyfus said the timetable for passing the legislation was “ridiculous”, adding “the government’s bill has been so rushed that it fails to fulfil one of Scott Morrison’s key promises – there are no powers to jail social media executives.”
Digital Industry Group, the lobbying organisation that represents Google, Facebook and Twitter, criticised the rushed process for the proposed new laws and questioned the necessity of jail terms.
Sunita Bose, managing director at Digital Industry Group said in a statement: “Announcing measures such as jailing staff at social media companies is inappropriate for a democracy such as Australia, and does not help the debate or solve the issue.
“It is…concerning that this legislation has been announced – with the government planning to rush it through Parliament in just three days – without any meaningful consultation with the digital industry, security, legal and technical experts, the intelligence community, the media, and civil society.”