Mis/Disinformation – ACMA Powers

Earlier this year, the Albanese Government announced we would legislate new and expanded powers to hold digital platforms to account for harmful disinformation and misinformation online. 

I’ve heard firsthand from locals concerned about dangerous misinformation and disinformation they’ve seen online. Misinformation and disinformation is a serious threat to the safety of our community, and our Government is committed to keeping Australians safe. 

The proposed new powers for the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) will put Australia at the forefront of tackling this serious problem. 

The ACMA will be able to monitor efforts and compel digital platforms to do more. The regulator will have new information-gathering powers to create transparency around what the platforms are doing to combat harmful content. 

If the regulator thinks the industry isn’t doing enough, the ACMA will be able to create an industry-wide code that all platforms must follow. The powers will be focused on addressing what the platforms are doing - the ACMA will not have power to target individual users or pieces of content. The proposed powers won’t monitor individual accounts – they will require platforms to provide information about their systems to address misinformation and disinformation on their services. 

Professional news and electoral content will be exempt because news publications are accountable to the ACMA and the Australia Press Council and the Australian Electoral Commission is responsible for enforcing electoral content. 

Right now, digital platforms can voluntarily regulate misinformation through a framework established by the Australian Code of Practice on Disinformation and Misinformation. The powers the Government consulted on will enable a graduated, needs-based regulatory framework to strengthen and support this voluntary code, and will extend to non-signatories of the voluntary code. 

The proposed legislation is not intended to prevent people from stating their beliefs. These new powers are intended to hold platforms to account to ensure they are not amplifying verifiably false information that could result in harm to Australians. 

These powers are about companies – not individuals. They provided the service, and they need to be responsible as is the case for any other business operating in Australia. 

The Government encouraged the public to have their say on this draft legislation (submissions closed on 6 August) with legislation expected to be introduced into Parliament later this year.