Minister Fletcher’s recognition of the need for social media guardrails a giant step forward

  • Media Release
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Reset Australia formerly operated under the name Responsible Technology Australia.

Responsible Technology Australia has commended Communications Minister Paul Fletcher for advancing the national discussion around social media safety by recognising it is the digital structure, as well as individual actors, that creates risks for citizens and society.

Mr Fletcher today used a National Press Club address to announce plans to pass new laws in 2020 that tighten the obligation of social media platforms to act responsibly. The Minister noted that “popular digital products and services have not been designed with user safety in mind” and that “we need to get to a point where our online highways benefit from the same rigorous approach to safety we see in the global automotive market – where international standards, enforced by legislation made by sovereign nations, are met…”

Responsible Technology Australia, a new research and advocacy organisation established to broaden the discussion about the impact of social media, has noted the federal government had positioned Australia as leader in the global push to reform social media regulation as the industry matures.

RTA spokeswoman Pru Goward said Minister Fletcher’s proactive approach to reform was welcome.

“Powerful new technologies are never inherently good or evil, they are tools that can be used for both. It’s true of knives, it’s true of television, and it’s true of social media,” said Ms Goward.

“We have seen abundant cases where social media has benefited society, and abundant cases where it has caused harm. The responsible thing for government to do is to consider thoughtful regulation that harnesses the benefit and limits the risk. It is excellent to see Minster Fletcher grappling with this problem in the national interest.

“When a major new technology arrives and changes society it is always appropriate that guardrails be considered so that technology operates broadly in the public interest. RTA looks forward to engaging in an inclusive, open, public discussion about what those guardrails should look like in Australia.

“Tech companies have come of age, and it’s no longer acceptable to just ‘move fast and break things’. Just like other massive companies they ought to be subject to appropriate regulation.”