On 16 February 2019, Australia's Department of Communications and the Arts released a draft consultation paper for Australia's first Online Safety Charter (Draft Charter). The Draft Charter sets out the Government’s expectations of, and standards for, technology firms to help keep children safe online.

The Draft Charter acknowledges that online safety is a shared responsibility, and one which "doesn't and shouldn't rest with either industry or end-users alone." It makes clear that the Government is "seeking to start a dialogue between the community, industry and Government about practical ways to implement the shared obligations".

High-level principles in the Draft Charter are intended to provide flexibility about how a technology firm might implement online safety measures. While the charter will not be mandatory, and there will be no sanctions for non-compliance, the intention is to "articulate a set of community-led minimum standard for industry to protect citizens … from harmful online experiences."

The proposed scope of the charter is broad, applying to "technology firms that offer the opportunity for users in Australia to interact or connect, and technology firms whose services and products enable users to access content and information." While this includes social media services, ISPs, search providers and content hosts (among others), it is acknowledged that a one size fits all approach will not be sufficient when it comes to applying these principles. The Government is seeking public submissions on the Draft Charter up until 5.00 pm AEST on 5 April 2019.

To see a copy of the draft charter, and have your say, click here