Former ACCC deputy to review Online Safety laws

Former ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard will lead a review of the Online Safety Act, including whether it should require a ‘duty of care’ from online platforms.

Delia Rickard

Communications minister Michelle Rowland announced the appointment during an address to the Press Club in Canberra on Wednesday.

“Ms Rickard has extensive experience in regulating consumer harms and is highly regarded for her efforts to promote a safer online environment through regulating scams,” the minister said.

“As the Deputy Chair of the ACCC for more than 10 years, she witnessed first-hand the changing digital landscape and how the vectors for harm have become increasingly sophisticated. “

The broad-ranging review will look at the objectives of the act as well as the effectiveness of the complaint schemes, the operation of the regulatory tools, and any gaps in the legislation.

The review will also consider whether regulatory approaches being adopted internationally – including the UK’s approach that places a duty of care on tech companies to ensure users, in particular children, are safe online – should be adopted in the Australian context.

Public consultation will get underway next year.

Addressing AI

Ms Rowland also used the occasion to announce the government has launched consultation on changes to its Basic Online Safety Expectations (BOSE) to address gaps and emerging harms, and clarify the government’s expectations of industry around technology like AI.

The proposed amendments are also aimed at preventing children accessing age-inappropriate content, combating hate speech and make service providers more transparent.

“Under the proposed changes, services using generative AI would explicitly be expected to proactively minimise the extent to which AI can be used to produce unlawful and harmful material,” the minister said.

“We are also proposing a new expectation that industry consider the best interests of children in the design and operation of their services.

“This could include implementing appropriate age assurance mechanisms and technologies, to prevent children from accessing age-inappropriate material.”

Submissions on the proposed changes can be made until February 2024.

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