Home Big tech firms in Australia given six months to draft online safety code

Big tech firms in Australia given six months to draft online safety code


  • Australia has set a six-month deadline for internet companies to draft online safety rules to protect children from inappropriate content.
  • The eSafety Commissioner has instructed the industry to create rules by October 3, or the government will impose its own code.
  • Google and Meta have confirmed their cooperation, as the government emphasizes industry responsibility in ensuring online safety for children.

Australia has set a six-month deadline to draft enforceable online safety rules to protect children online.

Internet companies have been tasked with coming up with clear rules around how to stop children from seeing pornography and other inappropriate material online. If they can’t, the Australian government will impose a code on them, according to a regulator as reported by Reuters on July 2.

Members of the online industry received the instruction from the eSafety Commissioner, giving the deadline of October 3. The plan should include provisions to protect minors from seeing inappropriate material before they are ready, including pornography and content around sensitive topics like suicide and eating disorders.

The code should also set limits on how app stores, dating websites, search engines, social media platforms, chat services, and even multi-player gaming platforms ensure that the content they’re displaying to children is suitable.

“Kids’ exposure to violent and extreme pornography is a major concern for many parents and carers, and they have a key role to play,” said Commissioner Julie Inman Grant in a statement. “But it can’t all be on them. We also need the industry to play their part by putting in some effective barriers.”

This is the second phase of online safety codes after the Australian regulator previously endorsed codes that influenced how internet companies stop the spread of terrorism or child sexual exploitation content. The regulator was criticized recently for backtracking on enforcing measures like age verification, default parental controls and software that blurs or filters unwanted sexual content.

Spokespeople for Google and Meta have both confirmed that the companies will work closely with the industry on the new code.

Why is online safety important for children?

Research done by the eSafety Commissioner in Australia showed that 60% of parents are concerned about their children accessing inappropriate material online. 66% felt confident in their ability to protect their children online, with 38% reportedly wanting more information on how to do so.

Children in Australia spend 114 minutes per day online on average, with a third of people under the age of eighteen saying they know someone who has engaged in risky behavior online. There is clearly space for children and young people to end up in harm’s way, highlighting the need for an enforceable code to protect them.

Featured image: Ideogram

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Rachael Davies
Tech Journalist

Rachael Davies has spent six years reporting on tech and entertainment, writing for publications like the Evening Standard, Huffington Post, Dazed, and more. From niche topics like the latest gaming mods to consumer-faced guides on the latest tech, she puts her MA in Convergent Journalism to work, following avenues guided by a variety of interests. As well as writing, she also has experience in editing as the UK Editor of The Mary Sue , as well as speaking on the important of SEO in journalism at the Student Press Association National Conference. You can find her full portfolio over on…

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