Australia’s Media Regulator to get new Powers to Crack Down on Online Misinformation – TheGuardian 1/19/23


The media regulator will gain new powers to impose a compulsory code of conduct against misinformation on digital platforms, Michelle Rowland has announced.

The communications minister revealed on Friday that the Australian Communications and Media Authority will also be given new information-gathering powers to assess how platforms, including social media companies, respond to misinformation and disinformation.

The move follows the Digital Industry Group Inc – whose members include Google, Apple, Meta, Twitter and TikTok – toughening up its voluntary code of conduct in December.

Digi welcomed the announcement, which it said would give Acma a “longer-term mandate to oversee” the code against online misinformation and disinformation while still leaving Digi to develop and administer it.

Rowland said Acma would be able to enact an enforceable industry code if industry self-regulation measures prove insufficient. New information-gathering powers will extend to non-signatories of Digi’s voluntary code.

Digital platforms will continue to be responsible for the content they host and promote to users and the Acma will not have a role in determining what is truthful.

The code and standard-making powers will not apply to professional news and authorised electoral content.

“Misinformation and disinformation pose a threat to the safety and wellbeing of Australians, as well as to our democracy, society and economy,” Rowland said in a statement.

“A new and graduated set of powers will enable the Acma to monitor efforts and compel digital platforms to do more, placing Australia at the forefront in tackling harmful online misinformation and disinformation….

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