Online Safety Act unveiled by Paul Fletcher to force tech sector to ‘step up’

Communications Minister Paul Fletcher is urging tech companies to “step up” and take more responsibility for the harmful material spreading on their platforms, unveiling proposed laws that would heap pressure on the industry to strengthen protections for users.

In a speech to the National Press Club on Wednesday, Mr Fletcher will warn tech firms to do more to tackle the dangers of the internet, criticising the “significant disconnect” between the sector’s efforts and community expectations.

Communications Minister Paul Fletcher says tech companies must ‘step up’ to prevent harmful material from proliferating online. Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

“Harmful material must be taken down faster. Attempts to send terrorist attacks viral must be stopped in their tracks. Industry needs to step up and take more responsibility. We need smart new approaches to getting harmful content down when fringe gore sites want it glorified,” he will say in the address, an advance copy of which was provided to The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

Mr Fletcher will release draft proposals for a new Online Safety Act, which could force companies to remove harmful content in 24 hours, rather than 48 hours under current rules; increase children’s protections against cyber-bullying; improve ways to seek removal of online abuse; and make harmful material harder to find on search engines.


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