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The Australian Child Rights Taskforce welcomes the eSafety Commissioner’s preliminary decision to reject industry drafted online safety codes in their current form. The Taskforce agrees with the Commissioner’s view that the current codes are, “unlikely to provide the appropriate community safeguards required for them to be registered.”

February 13, 2023

eSafety Commissioner rejects industry draft online safety codes

Sydney, Australia – The proposed Codes, drafted by industry, were deeply problematic. The Codes offered Australian children less protection than they currently have and undermined Australia’s global position in providing safety for our children online. If implemented, the Codes would have left young people in Australia with less protection than European or Californian children as a consequence.

The Taskforce is pleased that the draft Codes are not being registered. The eSafety Commissioner has realised another opportunity to raise safety standards for children.

ChildFund CEO Margaret Sheehan reflected on today’s decision.

“Sending these Codes back to the tech industry sends a strong message. In Australia we will not accept less for children,” she said.

“It is of fundamental importance to the safety of children and young people that the eSafety Commissioner prevents the potential for serious harm to children.”

Drafting comprehensive online codes that meet community safety standards is a task that requires the full cooperation of the Australian Government, of the tech industry and civil society.”

“Australia’s new online safety codes must ensure children are not exposed to the risk of abuse and online exploitation which can have negative lifelong impacts,” said Doctor Katrina Lines, Act for Kids CEO.

“Any steps that can be taken to safeguard Australian children online should be a priority.”

Rys Farthing from Reset Tech said, “Today’s announcement from the eSafety Commissioner is welcomed. This demonstrates a commitment to putting the rights and safety of Australian children first, and Australia’s commitment to stand up to Big Tech. For too long, they’ve put profit before kids and it’s time this stopped”.

The Taskforce would welcome opportunities for further consultation during this next stage of redevelopment. It will be of critical importance that the industry ensures the views and voices of children and young people are reflected in developing the new standards.