Achieving Digital Platform Public Transparency in Australia

  • Mis and Dis information
  • Online Safety
  • Regulatory Models
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As the momentum to regulate digital platforms in Australia intensifies, two words continue to circulate: transparency and accountability. These are vital and inseparable elements in a digital platforms regulatory model. One application of transparency into practice is a public reporting framework.

Transparency reporting can be a powerful tool for corporate accountability. To fully realise this potential, transparency reporting cannot be left as an opt-in exercise of broad, general and un-assessable statements. This report explores the limitations of Australia’s current public transparency framework for digital platforms and draws on international examples to recommend a path forward.

This report provides a thorough review of the public transparency frameworks under the Digital Services Act (DSA) and the UK’s new Online Safety Act, augmented by recent polling which indicates the public’s broad support for meaningful transparency measures. A model with five specific measures could improve public transparency in Australia is presented.

These include:

1. Risk assessments

2. Annual transparency reports (with prescribed metrics)

3. Annual independent audits

4. Data portals, including ad repositories and content moderation databases

5. Researcher access requirements

These measures could be applied in both online safety and misinformation and disinformation frameworks to create transparency around a broad range of digital risks.