Home SECURITY Australia plans to impose huge fines on big tech companies for failing to fight disinformation

Australia plans to impose huge fines on big tech companies for failing to fight disinformation

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Australia plans to impose huge fines on big tech companies for failing to fight disinformation

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Australia plans to impose huge fines on big tech companies for failing to fight disinformation

Australia is preparing tough sanctions for social networks.

The Australian government has introduced a bill that would impose fines of up to five per cent of annual global turnover on platform owners such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, TikTok and podcasting services for failing to combat online misinformation and manipulation.

According to the representative of the government oversight body – the Australian Communications and Media Commission (ACMA) – the bill is intended to introduce “mandatory” standards for the lightly regulated sector. ACMA will receive a number of powers to force companies to prevent the spread of false or misleading information and stop monetizing it.

ACMA will not have the right to remove or authorize individual posts. But it will be able to penalize platforms for failing to monitor and counter deliberately “false, misleading, and deceptive” content that could cause “serious harm.”

The rules will be in line with legislation expected to take effect in the European Union, where tech giants could face fines of up to six percent of their annual turnover and a total ban from operating within the bloc.

Australia is also at the forefront of efforts to regulate digital platforms, prompting threats from tech companies to exit the Australian market that have largely gone unfulfilled.

The bill is intended to strengthen the current voluntary Australian Code of Practice on Disinformation and False Information, which was launched in 2021 but has had limited impact. Tech giants including Adobe, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Redbubble, TikTok and Twitter are affected by the new law.

The planned laws were unveiled on Sunday amid a surge of misinformation in Australia over a referendum on Indian rights to be held this year. Australians will be asked whether the constitution should recognize Aboriginal and Torres Islanders and whether an Indian advisory body should be set up to participate in the drafting of bills.

The Australian Electoral Commission said it has witnessed an increase in misinformation and abuse online over the referendum process. Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers told local media on Thursday that the tone of online comments had become “aggressive.”

The government says fighting disinformation is essential to keeping Australians safe online and protecting the country’s democracy. “False and misleading information sows division in society, undermines confidence and can threaten public health and safety,” Communications Secretary Michelle Rowland said Sunday.

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