Industry online safety codes submitted for registration to eSafety
Monday 3 April 2023
Six associations representing the online industry in Australia (listed below) have submitted the revised Consolidated Industry Codes of Practice for the Online Industry, Phase 1 (class 1A and class 1B material) for registration to the Office of the eSafety Commissioner, to help protect Australians from harmful content on the internet. The codes were submitted on Friday, 31 March 2023, the deadline set by the eSafety Commissioner.
The codes submitted cover participants across eight key sections of the online industry specified in the Online Safety Act 2021: providers of social media, messaging, search engine and app distribution services, internet and hosting service providers, manufacturers and suppliers of any equipment that connects to the internet, and operators of all websites that can be accessed by Australian users.
Development of the draft codes has involved over 19 months of extensive work, detailed below. The drafts have been informed by research into community attitudes, industry working groups, two rounds of public and expert consultation (with 113 submissions received in total), as well as significant input from eSafety, including through its September 2021 Position Paper.
Industry associations first submitted draft codes to the Office of the eSafety Commissioner in November 2022. On 9 February 2023, eSafety made a preliminary assessment of the first draft codes.This assessment requested that additional feedback be considered by industry prior to the codes being resubmitted to the eSafety Commissioner by 9 March 2023, to better address community expectations.
Industry associations requested an extension to conduct a second 30-day round of consultation on the revised draft codes. A short extension was granted, with a deadline set for the revised codes to be resubmitted to the eSafety Commissioner by 31 March 2023, allowing for a two-week period of second public consultation.
The second period of public consultation on the draft codes took place from 9 March until 23 March 2023. Associations proactively contacted over 200 expert stakeholders, received 25 additional submissions and conducted a briefing session for expert stakeholders to help inform participation in the consultation period. A submissions log detailing how feedback from this consultation period has been dealt with in the final draft codes has been submitted to the Office of eSafety Commissioner, along with the draft codes and an updated request for registration. These documents are also published and available at onlinesafety.org.au.
A spokesperson for the steering group of six associations, said:
“The codes submitted today represent a globally unprecedented industry effort. We’d like to thank the diverse community members, eSafety and expert stakeholders who have contributed to consultation on the draft codes and helped ensure they reflect the complexity, importance and nuance of the subject matter they propose to cover. ”
The final codes have been submitted to the eSafety Commissioner. The eSafety Commissioner will assess the codes and make a final decision regarding registration in the coming weeks.
Background on the codes
The Online Safety Act 2021 (Act), which came into effect in January 2022, requires the development of codes by industry associations to regulate certain types of harmful online material, known as Class 1A and 1B material with reference to Australia’s classification scheme. This includes material promoting child sexual abuse, terrorism, extreme crime and violence, crime and violence, and drug-related content.
The draft codes cover participants across eight key sections of the online industry specified in the Act: providers of social media, messaging, search engine and app distribution services, internet and hosting service providers, manufacturers and suppliers of any equipment that connects to the internet, and operators of all websites that can be accessed by Australian users.
Media enquiries should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Background on code development process to date
- September 2021 – September 2022
- Industry working groups were opened to any industry participant in the eight sections of the online industry for participation (listed below).
- The first drafts of the codes were shared with eSafety on 14 February, 2022.
- Ongoing consultation between industry associations and eSafety undertaken to inform an updated set of drafts released for public consultation.
- September 2022 / October 2022
- Industry associations launched a public consultation process on 1 September, 2022, proactively contacting over 200 expert stakeholders and closely considering input from 88 submissions that informed updates to the draft codes.
- A nationally representative study on issues relevant to the codes was undertaken. The research is published online.
- An expert stakeholder roundtable, focused on key issues related to the codes, is undertaken. The meeting summary is published online.
- Details of the public consultation process, including submissions and industry research on community attitudes, are published by industry associations online.
- November 2022
- A response to submissions, explaining how industry has dealt with feedback received in the Codes submitted for registration is published by industry associations online.
- In line with standard procedure with co-regulatory codes, the draft codes were submitted to the regulator on the requested due date, 18 November, with a request for registration document.
- February 2023
- eSafety provided a preliminary assessment of the draft codes on 9 February, requesting that additional feedback be considered by industry prior to the Codes being resubmitted to eSafety by 9 March. eSafety’s feedback is available here alongside the corresponding draft codes.
- Industry associations request an extension to conduct a second 30-day round of consultation on the updated draft codes.
- March 2023
- A short extension was granted, with codes due for resubmission to the eSafety Commissioner by 31 March 2023, allowing for a two-week period of second public consultation.
- The consultation period closed on 23 March 2023.
- The associations then considered the feedback received through submissions and prepared final drafts of the codes, together with an updated request for registration and submissions log, for the Office of eSafety Commissioner.
- These documents were submitted by deadline, 31 March 2023.
About the industry associations
The Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) (amta.org.au) is the peak body and trusted voice of the mobile telecommunications industry in Australia. Its members span telecommunications carriers, network vendors, infrastructure providers, handset manufacturers and various other smaller providers. Its mission is to promote an environmentally, socially and economically sustainable mobile telecommunications industry in Australia.
BSA | The Software Alliance (BSA) (www.bsa.org) is the leading advocate for the global software industry. Its members are among the world’s most innovative companies, creating software solutions that help businesses of all sizes in every part of the economy to modernise and grow. With headquarters in Washington, DC, and operations in more than 30 countries, BSA advocates for public policies that foster technology innovation and drive growth in the digital economy.
Communications Alliance (commsalliance.com.au) is the primary communications industry body in Australia, representing carriers, carriage and internet service providers, content providers, platform providers, equipment vendors, IT companies, consultants and business groups. The prime mission of Communications Alliance is to create a co-operative stakeholder environment that allows the industry to take the lead on initiatives which grow the Australian communications industry, enhance the connectivity of all Australians and foster the highest standards of business behaviour.
The Consumer Electronics Suppliers Association (CESA) (cesa.asn.au) provides a united forum and voice for suppliers of consumer appliances to focus on regulatory, technical and commercial issues that affect the capacity of member companies to supply products in the Australian market.
The Digital Industry Group Inc. (DIGI) (digi.org.au) is a non-profit industry association that advocates for the interests of the digital industry in Australia. DIGI’s vision is a thriving Australian digitally-enabled economy that fosters innovation, a growing selection of digital products and services, and where online safety and privacy are protected.
The Interactive Games & Entertainment Association (IGEA) (igea.net) is the industry association representing and advocating for the video games industry in Australia, including the developers, publishers and distributors of video games, as well as the makers of the most popular gaming platforms, consoles and devices. IGEA has over a hundred members, from emerging local game development studios to some of the largest technology companies in the world.