Government introduces bill for expanded eSafety Commissioner role

Changes will help office tackle so-called ‘revenge porn’, government has said

The government has introduced a bill in the lower house that broadens the role of the Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner. The government last year foreshadowed the changes, which will see the agency renamed ‘Office of the eSafety Commissioner’.

The Enhancing Online Safety for Children Amendment Bill 2017 will “broaden the general functions of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner to cover online safety for all Australians, not just Australian children” urban infrastructure minister Paul Fletcher said this morning, introducing the proposed legislation in parliament.

“The expansion of the commissioner’s general functions, as proposed by the bill, will allow the commissioner to take on a broader online safety role and carry out important work on the government’s election commitments relating to women’s safety, and to online safety for older Australians.”

“Expanding the commissioner’s role and changing the name of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner to the eSafety Commissioner will make it easier for the public to identify where they can seek assistance and advice in relation to range of online safety issues irrespective of age,” the minister said.

The government announced in November that Julie Inman Grant had been appointed to the role of Children’s eSafety Commissioner.

Inman Grant replaced Alastair MacGibbon, who is now the Prime Minister’s Special Advisor on Cyber Security.

Announcing the appointment last year, communications minister Senator Mitch Fifield and minister for women Senator Michaelia Cash said that the expanded remit of the office will enable it to help tackle non-consensual sharing of individuals’ intimate images (so-called ‘revenge porn’).

The ministers said that the government planned to launch a public consultation on a civil penalties regime that will take aim at people engaged in sharing revenge porn images and websites that host the material.

The Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner was formally launched in October 2015.

Since then, it has handled 320 complaints about serious cyber bullying since and worked with 11 major social media services providers to counter cyber bullying, Fletcher said today.

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