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  • Chris Bratton - Tech Journalist

Australia on combating online trolls with defamation laws

In a media release on 28 Nov 2021, the Prime Minister, Attorney General, came forward with online tolling and defamation laws for Australia. To protect Australians online and unmask anonymous trolls.

The government of Australia, from now on, will force social networks to identify trolls. These individuals behind the screen will be under regulations and filed as per their wrongdoings. Many countries already have digital protection laws, and social media companies follow them. But it's tough to monitor each individual and accuse as it breaks privacy law. The law is tweaked in Australia, and the authorities hope to bring a fair judgmental solution.

According to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, rules in the real world should also be similar to the virtual world to prevent many crimes. The government ruled that from now on, social media will be responsible for defamation and trolls unless they provide the intensity of the targeted individual.

Prime Minister Morrison said 'social media can too often be cowards place, where the anonymous can bully, harass and ruin lives without consequences.' The reforms are a desperate solution in the online world with very little protection against aggressive comments and hateful speech.

Previously we saw Twitter and Facebook bans plus cooldowns for people spreading rumours around government movements causing panic among the public. Even the pandemic news got false stories, various groups created with people applying incorrect information on antivaccine of COVID-19. These were brought under strict management with the help of social network companies. Now people believe as important as free speech is, spreading defamation, online trolling can bring personal harm against individuals.

This year, we saw Facebook and Australia making deals on social networks restoring news in early February. Attorney-General Michaelia Cash said, 'since the High Court's decision in the Voller case, it is clear that ordinary Australians are at risk of being held legally responsible for deformity material posted by anonymous online trolls.'

Yet, it is not clear how these social media companies will identify users and even how the bill will implement it. Still, the reformatory law will be carried out even if a third party wrote it. The materials found on the open internet reflect people's free will, and it came a long way after regulatory managements took down regulations to make things easier. But again, as it is for the people, by the people, regulatory law will be put out throughout all the social media platforms.

PM said, 'anonymous troll is on notice; you will be named and held to account for what you say.'

'Big companies are on notice, remove the shielded of anonymity or be held to account for what you publish.'

Time after time, the Australian government thought of what was best for the general people and targeted individuals. Like other people, they have the right to maintain a private life without being poked by the public all the time. The last time we saw the Australian government winning against social media was when a mass attacker in New Zealand committed a racist attack and murdered several.

The second win came to the government when the law required Facebook and Google to pay local news publishes the right to link their content on their platform. Later Indonesia followed the Australian government's role and got the same result. Though Facebook and Google protested later, the ruling came with enough backup to bring the deserved change.

Though 2020 Australian parliament sitting dates are not yet determined, this ruling could be the last for the year. Draft exposure will undergo a voting process in the following months or coming weeks on how the approach will occur.


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