The federal government has marked Safer Internet Day 2015 with the introduction of new legislation that will centralise the protection of children online and administer the protections through the newly created office of the Children's e-Safety Commissioner.
The Enhancing Online Safety for Children Bill, introduced for debate in Parliament today, will see the commissioner's position utilised to lead the development of policies around protecting children online.
In line with the focus of this year's Safer Internet Day – which is tackling issues around the safe use of social-media sites – the government has updated its Easy Guide to Socialising Online, which includes step-by-step instructions on topics such as managing social-media privacy settings and reporting cyber-bulling, abusive behaviour and inappropriate content.
The establishment of the Children's e-Safety Commissioner was a Coalition promise in the 2013 election, with legislation prepared throughout 2014 and the position's enforcement capabilities to be backed with legal authority to remove what Paul Fletcher, parliamentary secretary to the minister for communications referred to as “harmful cyberbullying material that targets Australian children”.
The bill was registered on December 4 and outlined the powers of the Commissioner, who will be appointed by the minister and may delegate his or her functions and powers as appropriate. The Commissioner will be assisted by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), may be directed by the minister, and must report annually.
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