Australia unveils cyber-bullying plans

Australia is bullying social media sites into banning bullies from social media sites. If the sites don’t comply, they’re facing fines of $17,000 AUS (£9,000).

Sound confusing?

The country has created a bill that will force all social networks operating in Australia to implement "basic online safety requirements," which includes forbidding bullying in the end user licence agreements and operating a "complaints scheme under which end-users of the service can request the removal from the service of cyber-bullying material."

Sites are also required to appoint a children’s e-safety commissioner to send notifications of bullying material to “an employee or agent” who handles bullying complaints.

The commissioner’s job will also be to promote online safety for children and to coordinate the activities of Commonwealth Departments, authorities and agencies relating to online safety for children.

So what if the social media sites decide not to remove the material, or simply ignore the Australian bill? They get a “tier 2” status on the commissioner’s website and a fine of $17,000 AUS (£9,125).

If they comply, they can be moved up to “tier 1” status, and get a gold star.

The bill also has an “end user notice” that requires anyone posting bullying material to stop doing so, delete all offensive posts, and apologise to their victims.

Besides the fines, there’s not much Australia can do to prevent cyber bullying, even though the country has made multiple attempts to regulate online behaviour.

The bill is indeed a little better than what the current government's pre-election policy suggested it might be: that document called for parental controls to be installed on all manner of computing devices and their operation assisted by network operators.

Image credit: Flickr/Wen Tong Neo