Yesterday the Morrison Government released the exposure draft of a potentially game-changing new online privacy bill. The Online Privacy Bill would target social media platforms’ use of their users’ private information.
According to the explanatory paper, the Bill was drafted in response to the 2018 Facebook/Cambridge Analytica data mining scandal. The scandal revealed that Facebook had permitted third-party agency Cambridge Analytica access to users’ private data for advertising purposes.
Private sector organisations are currently beholden to the Privacy Act and must comply with its Australian Privacy Principles. The Online Privacy Bill was written to address specific privacy challenges associated with online social media platforms. The Bill would expand the Privacy Act’s reach, allowing the government to regulate the use of data by social media platforms, data brokers, and other large online platforms such as Google and Amazon.
The changes would require social media platforms to verify users’ age and obtain parental or guardian consent for minors prior to collecting or using any personal information. It is hoped the amendments will allow the government to go to greater lengths to protect children’s online privacy.
All organisations subject to the Online Privacy Bill would also be required to allow users to explicitly request their information not be disclosed.
Attorney-General Michaelia Cash also highlighted the importance of the Bill’s harsher penalties for breaches.
“We know that Australians are wary about personal information they give over to large tech companies. We are ensuring their data and privacy will protected [sic] and handled with care. Our draft legislations means that these companies will be punished heavily if they don’t meet that standard,” Ms Cash said.
Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention David Coleman claims the new changes would protect children and young people from the harms of social media.
“Young people have told us this themselves. In a 2018 Headspace survey of over 4000 young people aged 12 to 25, social media was nominated as the main reason youth mental health is getting worse. And the recent leak of Facebook’s own internal research demonstrates the impact social media platforms can have on body image and the mental health of young people,” explained Mr Coleman.
“That’s why this legislation is so important. It will provide families with powerful protections, and require fundamental changes to the way that social media platforms operate in Australia.”
To read more about the Bill, read the explanatory paper here.