Reset Australia launches with agenda to counter digital threats to democracy

  • Media Release
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Australia is set to become a key player in the global push to tackle digital threats to democracy and rein in Big Tech, as the international Reset network launches a local affiliate.

Reset Australia will tap into the international network of prominent thinkers on digital regulation, such as Shoshana Zuboff, to develop public policy that diffuses the growing threat unchecked Big Tech poses to democracy.

“We know social media is doing damage to our democracy and public institutions,” said Chris Cooper, executive director of Reset Australia. “Hate speech, disinformation and polarisation are increasingly the by-products of the Big Tech business model.”

Reset Australia’s key areas of focus will be tackling foreign interference in our elections, threats to safety of young people and the amplification of fringe and extreme voices.

“Australia is not immune to the harmful by-products of Big Tech. We know Kosovo troll farms stoked outrage in Australia with xenophobic content, bots swarmed Twitter, and Facebook spotted 2.2 billion fake accounts between January and March 2019.

“The eSafety Commissioner found 14% of adult Australians have been the target of online hate speech. While one in five young people have experienced some form of abuse online.

“Core to Reset Australia’s work will be understanding how Big Tech is harming our society, and what policy settings we need to implement to diffuse this threat.

“Australia has already been a world leader when it comes to recognising the harms of Big Tech. We were the first country to establish an eSafety Commissioner, and the news media bargaining code is another ambitious initiative.

“Australia has the proven track record of tackling the world’s problems. We led the world in implementing plain cigarette packaging, childhood immunisation, the fight against HIV and gun control - we shouldn’t underestimate our ability to again be world leaders in social media and Big Tech reform.”

Reset Australia, which has evolved out of Responsible Technology Australia, brings together a broad coalition from across the tech industry, as well as local and international public policy experts.

The board’s membership includes Dr Catriona Wallace, CEO of Ethical AI Advisory, the Hon Pru Goward, former Sex Discrimination Commissioner and NSW Government Minister, Amit Singh, managing director at AlphaBeta, Matthew Beard, fellow at The Ethics Centre and Ben Scott, executive director of Reset.