The Morrison Government will crackdown on social media platforms and online predators and trolls in a new plan to protect children, families and the community.

These new measures build on Australia’s world-leading protections, put in place by the Morrison Government.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said keeping Australians safe was his top priority.

“As a dad I know first-hand how anxious parents feel about what their kids see and do online and the dangers the internet can bring,” Mr Morrison said.

“Online trolls have no place in Australia and I promise to bring in new laws to protect our kids and keep our community safe.

“No one should be subjected to vile abuse and harassment whether they are in the online or offline world.

“We need the law to keep pace with technology and I want to ensure the courts reflect community expectations about the seriousness of online harassment, abuse and crime.”

Penalties for online abuse and harassment will be strengthened in line with community expectations that online crime should be treated as seriously as offline crime and will include;

  • Maximum penalties for certain offences will be increased, including for those using a carriage service to menace, harass or cause offence under section 474.17 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 from three years’ imprisonment to five years imprisonment.
  • New ‘aggravated’ offences will be introduced and sentencing for the worst categories of crime, including aggravated offences for sexual intercourse or other sexual activity with child outside Australia and offences involving conduct on three or more occasions and two or more people.
  • New offences of providing electronic services to facilitate dealings with child abuse material, and ‘grooming’ third parties using the post or a carriage service to procure children for sexual activity.
  • Re-introduce the Bill that Labor stalled in the Senate because they oppose mandatory minimum sentences for child sex offences, including increasing maximum penalties for a range of child sex offences, such as offences that cover ‘grooming’, sexual activity with a child outside Australia, and using a carriage service to transmit indecent communication to a child.
  • Attorney-General Christian Porter said these new measures sent a clear message to the courts that the community expects online crime to be treated every bit as seriously as offline crime.

    “We will increase maximum penalties for certain offences, including for those using a carriage service to menace, harass or cause offence under section 474.17 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 from three years’ imprisonment to five years imprisonment,” Mr Porter said.

    Minister for Communications Mitch Fifield said major social media platforms would be held to account with new mandated requirements for transparency reports on the number, type and response to reports and complaints about illegal, abusive and predatory content by their users.

    “We know that technology facilitated abuse is becoming a feature of domestic and family violence cases, and we want to ensure that platform are taking effective action to combat this abuse but we can’t do that without real data to inform our actions.”

    The new transparency reporting will align with the work already undertaken by the UK Government as part of their Online Harms White Paper process, including their draft transparency reporting template, to ensure a consistent approach across jurisdictions.

    The Morrison Government will work with technology firms including social media platforms, app stores and Internet Service Providers to better support parents by giving them the tools to make their own decisions about how their children use the internet, including by:

  • Ensuring online apps, games and services marketed to children default to the most restrictive privacy and safety settings at initial use or set-up.
  • Making available to parents the option of a filtered internet service that, at a minimum, blocks access to sites identified by the eSafety Commissioner.
  • Ensuring that information regarding online safety and parental control settings are available at all points in the supply chain including point-of-purchase, registration, account creation and first use.
  • Minister for Communications Mitch Fifield said the Morrison Government would also introduce a new Online Safety Act to ensure our laws keep pace with tech change and to make sure safety is embedded in the online world.

    “As recommended by the Briggs Review, the new Act will be a single, consolidated piece of online safety legislation that includes greater transparency and reporting requirements for industry,” Minister Fifield said.

    The Morrison Government will work with the G20 to ensure technology firms meet obligations regarding prevention and protection, transparency and deterrence to stop terrorists weaponising the internet.

    These new measures are in addition to the more than $100 million the Morrison Government is investing to improve eSafety over the next four years. Only the Liberal and Nationals can be trusted to do what is necessary to keep Australian children safe online.