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Ministers for the Department of Communications and the Arts

The Hon Paul Fletcher MP

Previous Parliamentary Secretary
to the Minister for Communications

Government moves forward on plans to enhance online safety for children

22 January 2014

Paul Fletcher MP
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Communications

The Abbott Government is moving forward on its plans to enhance online safety for children, today issuing a discussion paper seeking comment on proposed policy measures including:

  • establishing a Children's E-Safety Commissioner;
  • developing an effective complaints system, backed by legislation, to get harmful material down fast from large social media sites; and
  • examining whether there is a need for a new, simplified cyber-bullying offence.

"The internet provides immense benefits – to children as much as to adults. But it can also bring dangers," said Paul Fletcher, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Communications.

"It is clear that parents, and others caring for children, want more help – and better tools – to keep the children in their care as safe as possible when they use the internet.

"The Children's E-Safety Commissioner will be a single point of contact in the federal government for online safety issues for children.

"When a child falls victim to cyber-bullying, it can be hard to get the harmful material down fast. And with current laws, cyber-bullies may not realise they are breaking the law. This is what these measures are designed to address," Mr Fletcher said.

The discussion paper seeks public comment on implementation of these measures, with many key issues needing to be determined, such as what constitutes a 'large social media site'; who can make a complaint; and what is a reasonable time frame for the large social media site to respond.

The government also wants comment from large social media sites about making the scheme efficient and low cost for them to comply.

The discussion paper is available at www.communications.gov.au/online_safety_consultation and submissions are due by 7 March 2013.

"I encourage all with an interest in online safety for children to respond to this discussion paper," Mr Fletcher concluded.

Media contact: Germaine Graham (02) 9465 3950 or 0413 029 885

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