Australia's new plan to unmask and tackle online trolls. All you need to know

Australia’s new plan to unmask and tackle online trolls. All you need to know
© Provided by Hindustan Times The Scott Morrison government has termed the legislation a “world-leading” move to “better protect” Australians. (HT)

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Sunday said his government will introduce legislation aimed at unmasking online trolls and holding social media companies accountable for identifying them. The government has termed the legislation a “world-leading” move to “better protect” Australians.

Morrison told reporters that anonymous accounts on social media have the capability to bully, harass and ruin lives without consequence and the reforms brought by the government will tackle the online trolls.

“We would not accept these faceless attacks in a school, at home, in the office, or on the street. And we must not stand for it online, on our devices and in our homes,” Morrison said.

“We cannot allow social media platforms to provide a shield for anonymous trolls to destroy reputations and lives. We cannot allow social media platforms to take no responsibility for the content on their platforms. They cannot enable it, disseminate it, and wash their hands of it. This has to stop,” he added.

How the government is planning to unmask online trolls?

The legislation would require global social media giants to establish a “quick, simple and standardised” complaints system to ensure defamatory remarks are removed and trolls are identified with their consent.

It will introduce new court powers requiring social media giants to disclose identifying details of trolls, without their consent, to victims. The identification will enable the victims to lodge a defamation case.

The government said that the legislation will ensure Australians and Australian organisations with a social media page are “not legally considered publishers and cannot be held liable for any defamatory comments posted on their page.” This is in response to a case in which Australia’s apex court ruled that Australians who maintain social media pages can be ‘publishers’ of defamatory comments made by others.

“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 defamatory material posted by anonymous online trolls,” the Australian attorney-general Michaelia Cash said.

“The reforms will make clear that, in defamation law, Australians who operate or maintain a social media page are not ‘publishers’ of comments made by others,” she added.

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