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Fed govt eyes adult online abuse crackdown

Australian adults will get greater protection from online bullying and attacks by internet trolls under a proposed federal government law.

The draft of the online safety bill released on Wednesday is the first legislation to address the cyber abuse of adults in the world, the government says.

It will allow Australia’s eSafety commissioner to order the takedown of abusive material, especially if online platforms don’t respond in a timely manner to a legitimate complaint.

“The internet has brought great social, educational and economic benefits,” communications minister Paul Fletcher said.

“But just as a small proportion of human interactions go wrong offline, so too are there risks online.”

The proposed adult cyber-abuse laws would apply to “seriously harmful content” and “appropriately” balance the importance of freedom of speech, Mr Fletcher said.

Under the legislation, online platforms like Twitter and Facebook would be expected to remove abusive material within 24 hours of receiving a notice from the eSafety commissioner.

The commissioner would have the power to unmask persons behind anonymous or fake accounts used to abuse others or exchange illegal content.

They would also have the power to block websites in response to online crises, such as terrorism events.

The government is asking for community feedback on the bill by February 14 next year.

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