Briefing: Can safety standards be enforceable?

  • Online Safety
  • Children and young people
Decorative image

This policy briefing reflects discussions from a roundtable of 22 policy experts on January 25th 2024. The event was held under the Chatham House Rule.  The discussion was prompted by proposals put forward in the Online Safety (Basic Online Safety Expectations) Amendment Determination 2023       and the proposals to grow and expand Australia’s online safety standards.

While these gradual expansions of expectations may be welcome, there was no clear path noted in the review towards making these standards enforceable. Voluntary safety standards frequently fail to be implemented and there is concern across civil society that these welcome expansions of the Basic Online Safety Expectations (BOSE) may fall short of driving up safety standards in practice. Alongside this, a broader review of the Online Safety Act 2021 has been announced for early 2024, and there is the potential to review the approach of the BOSE, including issues around enforceability. 

Against this backdrop, Reset.Tech Australia convened a roundtable to explore the issue from a range of safety and regulatory perspectives and to ask the challenging question: can our safety standards be enforceable? 

This briefing recommends:

  • Ensuring that a comprehensive breadth of systems and elements are addressed under Australia’s safety framework 
  • Ensuring meaningful transparency by introducing a suite of compulsory transparency measures 
  • Ensuring effective compliance by enhancing regulators’ powers 
  • Given Australia already has a world-class public facing complaints mechanism under the Online Safety Act, this mechanism should be extended to basic online safety standards 

Note: This paper was updated in April 2024 to revise and update recommendations.