New legislation to enhance online safety for children takes effect from 1 July 2015, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Communications, Paul Fletcher said.
The new laws establish the Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner.
The Children’s eSafety Commissioner will operate a complaints system backed by legislation to get harmful cyberbullying material targeted at an Australian child down quickly from large social media sites.
Leading online safety expert Alastair MacGibbon has been appointed to the role of Children’s eSafety Commissioner.
Under the new laws, the Children’s eSafety Commissioner has the power to issue a notice to a large social media service requiring it to remove cyberbullying material targeted at an Australian child.
The Commissioner will also have the power to issue a notice to a person who has posted cyberbullying material targeted at an Australian child, requiring the person to remove the material. “Over the past few years there have been big changes in children’s online behaviour.” Mr Fletcher said.
“Today children use social media very extensively – often from the age of ten or younger. And many children have smartphones or other devices which give internet connectivity – meaning they are often using the internet in circumstances where there is no adult supervision.
“The Coalition took a policy to enhance online safety for children to the 2013 election – and we are delivering on our policy commitment.
“Research has found that over a 12 month period, one in five children aged eight to seventeen are exposed to cyberbullying. The overwhelming message from the Australian public is that we must do more to protect Australian kids online – and that is what the Children’s eSafety Commissioner has been established to do.”
The complaints service is available to Australian children on a “soft launch” basis from 1 July 2015. There will be a formal launch of the service in weeks to come.
From 1 July, the Children’s eSafety Commissioner website and cyberbullying complaint form will be live at www.esafety.gov.au, for those wanting more information, or those wanting to make a complaint.
Media Contact – Germaine Graham, Office of Paul Fletcher MP, 0413 029 885, Germaine.Graham@aph.gov.au