In 2019, as part of its response to the Digital Platforms Inquiry, the Australian Government tasked the digital industry and the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to develop a voluntary code on disinformation and news quality.
In June 2020 the ACMA released a position paper outlining its expectations of the code. Development of the code was led by Digital Industry Group Incorporated (DIGI). PIJI made a submission to the Draft Voluntary Code of Practice on Disinformation in November 2020.
PIJI’s Submission on the Draft Australian Code of Practice on Disinformation recommended that:
- The code revisit the issue of news quality to emphasise the role that high-quality news plays in improving the digital information ecosystem
- The code be expanded to cover all kinds of misinformation, rather than being limited to disinformation
- Signatories to the code commit to transparency in delivering their obligations under the code, including publishing public action plans and reporting against them. Compliance with the code should be overseen by an independent authority or regulator
- Certain terms that are key to establishing the scope of activities under the code receive clear and practical definitions, including ‘user-generated content’, ‘public benefit’, ‘harm’ and ‘inauthentic accounts’
- Content and services included under the code should be sufficiently broad to address the challenge of misinformation.
DIGI released a Final Voluntary Code of Practice on Disinformation and Misinformation in February 2021. PIJI has expressed concerns about the final version of the code in regards to a lack clarity around expectations for its signatories, and on the role of public interest journalism in combating misinformation.