Anonymous online trolls to be named and shamed under new Australian law

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced new legislation which would force social media groups to publicly identify anonymous trolls if they refuse to take down abusive posts.

Anonymous online trolls to be named and shamed under new Australian law
Photograph: Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash.

“Social media can too often be a cowards’ palace, where the anonymous can bully, harass and ruin lives without consequence,” he said.

“We would not accept these faceless attacks in a school, at home, in the office, or on the street. And we must not stand for it online, on our devices and in our homes,” he said.

The law will compel social media companies to provide “identifying details of trolls to victims, without consent, which will then enable a defamation case to be lodged,” according to the government.

In remarks made on television on Sunday, he said the onus was on social media companies to take responsibility for the online abuse that occurs on their platforms because they “created the space and they need to make it safe, and if they won’t, we will make them.”

“Anonymous trolls are on notice, you will be named and held to account for what you say. Big tech companies are on notice, remove the shield of anonymity or be held to account for what you publish,” he said.

“The online world should not be a wild west where bots and bigots and trolls and others are anonymously going around and can harm people," he added.

News Corp Australia’s executive chairman, Michael Miller, welcomed the new legislation. He said, “These are tough new world-first laws that will give Australian courts the power to order social media giants to identify perpetrators or risk incurring hefty defamation payouts.”

Nine Entertainment Co., another Australian media firm, also welcomed the proposal, saying: “For some time now, Nine, along with other media companies, has been campaigning for reform of defamation laws, to bring them into the 21st century.”

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