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Australia’s eSafety Commissioner gets new powers under BOSE changes

The Australian government has announced a raft of amendments to the Basic Online Safety Expectations Determination, allowing the eSafety Commissioner to demand online platforms share user data.

user icon David Hollingworth
Tue, 04 Jun 2024
Australia’s eSafety Commissioner gets new powers under BOSE changes
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The Australian government has announced a set of amendments to the Basic Online Safety Expectations Determination, or BOSE Determination, giving eSafety commissioner Julie Inman Grant (pictured) new powers to protect Australians online.

The changes to the BOSE Determination – which sets out expectations for how online service providers are expected to protect Australian users – include the power to request the numbers of Australians using such platforms, broken down by two age groups: children and adults.

The determination also now expects online platforms to take the “best interests” of children into consideration when it comes to platform design and features and consider user safety when it comes to the implementation of generative AI. In particular, online services should minimise “the extent to which online services are used to produce or facilitate unlawful or harmful material”, which also includes the creation of non-consensual deepfake images, particularly “intimate” ones.

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Effectively, try not to let your AI tell people they should be eating rocks, and don’t let your users create pornographic deepfakes of their exes.

Finally, online platforms are now expected to keep user safety in mind when it comes to designing and implementing recommendation engines and to be more proactive about amplifying harmful or unlawful content.

Michelle Rowland, the Minister for Communications, said that the new BOSE Determination is “a key tool to improve safety online”.

“What we know is that the online environment has changed and will continue to change – which is why we’re taking action now to ensure we address current and emerging harms,” Minister Rowland said in a statement.

“The amended BOSE Determination will provide eSafety with a clear and up-to-date remit in exercising its transparency powers and send a clear message to online platforms about their obligations to keep Australians safe online.

“I thank those who provided a submission and look forward to seeing the completion of the Review into the Online Safety Act in coming months to ensure our laws are fit for purpose to address new and emerging harms.”

The changes to the BOSE Determination were made following a period of consultation that ran from late 2023 to early 2024.

David Hollingworth

David Hollingworth

David Hollingworth has been writing about technology for over 20 years, and has worked for a range of print and online titles in his career. He is enjoying getting to grips with cyber security, especially when it lets him talk about Lego.

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