Letter To The Minister For Communications

Written by:
22 May 2024
Letter To The Minister For Communications - Featured image

Today the Institute of Public Affairs has written to the Communications Minister Michelle Rowland about the urgent need to rethink Australia’s approach to internet censorship.

The decision by Australia’s eSafety Commissioner to order social media companies to take down footage of the knife attack against Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel in a church in Wakefield, Sydney, in April 2024, and to launch futile litigation against social media company X for allegedly failing to comply, has highlighted deep flaws in the way the Online Safety Act 2021 has been designed.

The IPA’s research shows that these flaws will be replicated and amplified under the government’s proposed misinformation and disinformation laws.

The flaws we have identified are:

  1. There is no presumption of free speech;
  2. The Act contains overly broad powers and ill-defined concepts; and
  3. There is a lack of democratic oversight.

Any new laws should be designed based on the following core principles:

  1. Only narrow objective tests should apply to any power of censorship. Subjective and broad powers are inconsistent with the principles of a liberal democracy. 
  2. Protecting children should be the primary focus of any online regulation.
  3. There must be a presumption of free speech in any laws that seek to regulate the internet.

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