Statement on the Basic Online Safety Expectations Determination

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Reset.Tech Australia welcomes the Online Safety (Basic Online Safety Expectations) Amendment Determination 2024 (‘BOSE’) as a necessary addition to the online safety regulatory framework. We are grateful for the Government’s dedication to tackling the issue of online safety, and commitment to improving our online safety frameworks.

The BOSE continues to move in the right direction when it comes to the introduction of the ‘children’s best interest’ principle into digital regulation, which should see regulators in the future able to ensure digital platforms put children’s safety and wellbeing ahead of profits. We also welcome clarification that the BOSE expects children to be protected right up until their 18th birthday.

The expansion of basic safety expectations to cover more systems and processes is timely and necessary. It is welcome that recommender algorithms and generative AI will now have some expectations for safe operations within Australia. But we should not stop there. There are many more systems and processes to address, including content moderation systems and advertising systems.

The BOSE can only go so far. Without being enforceable, these small steps forward will only ever be symbolic and effectively voluntary. We have seen how time and time again industry ignores safety guidance in pursuit of maximising profits. The BOSE tries to guide online safety in the right direction, but without being enforceable, they won’t lead to much real change. Tech companies still can’t be compelled to share information on how their products create systemic risks. They’re also under no obligations to do anything about those risks. To be meaningful, safety expectations need to be matched with regulatory powers to compel platforms to take specific steps to ensure user safety, with consequences for failure.

We look forward to the next stages of the Online Safety Act review, and the opportunity to see these kinds of basic safety expectations become enforceable.