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New online safety codes registered

July 18, 2023

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The codes become enforceable in December.

Last month saw the release of five new mandatory codes aimed at regulating online content.

The new codes are known as the:

  • Social Media Services Code
  • Apps Distribution Services Code
  • Hosting Services Code
  • Internet Carriage Services Code, and
  • Equipment Code.

The registration of these codes is the latest step in a process that began in 2021, with the release of a position paper to help the industry develop the codes. Their release follows several periods of consultation with the public and industry.

The codes are designed to protect Australians from class 1 and class 2 online material, which includes videos showing child sexual abuse, acts of terrorism, and content that is inappropriate for children.

So what do you need to know?

News producers should check the scope of the new codes to check whether they apply to them. The obligations under these codes are set to come into effect on 16 December 2023. After that date, the codes will become enforceable, so it’s imperative that any company subject to the codes is aware of their obligations.

Companies should review the codes to understand what is required of them. The codes can be found on the eSafety Commissioner website.

Future action

The eSafety Commissioner declined to register the Relevant Electronic Services and Designated Internet Services codes, stating “they do not provide appropriate community safeguards for users in Australia”.

Industry standards for these codes will be drafted by eSafety, with further industry and public consultation.

A decision on another code, the Internet Search Engine Services Code, was reserved because “the code, as currently drafted, does not sufficiently capture recently proposed changes to search engines to incorporate generative artificial intelligence features”, and industry associations were asked to submit a revised version of this code to take the risks of generative AI into account.

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