The Enhancing Online Safety Act 2015

The Office of the eSafety Commissioner was established in 2015 with a mandate to coordinate and lead online safety efforts across government, industry and the not-for profit community.

When the Office was established, the eSafety Commissioner’s functions and powers primarily related to enhancing online safety for Australian children.

In 2017, the Act was amended to expand the Commissioner’s remit to promoting and enhancing online safety for all Australians.

Cyberbullying

The Act establishes a complaints service for young Australians who experience serious cyberbullying. It gives the Commissioner the power to investigate complaints about serious cyberbullying material targeted at an Australian child.

The Act establishes a two-tiered scheme for the removal of cyberbullying material from participating social media services. The two Tiers of the scheme are subject to different levels of regulatory oversight:

  • social media services that participate in Tier 1 of the scheme on a co-operative basis are regarded as our social media partners
  • large social media services that are declared Tier 2 services by the Minister for Communications may be subject to legally binding notices and civil penalties for non-compliance with requests from the Commissioner.

In addition, the Commissioner has powers to issue notices to individuals who post cyberbullying material and request that they take the material down, refrain from posting further cyberbullying material or apologise to the child who is the target.

More information about the complaints resolution process is available in our Cyberbullying complaints information guide.

Image based abuse

The eSafety Commissioner administers an image-based abuse portal. The portal provides reporting options, support and resources for victims of image based abuse, as well as their family and friends, and bystanders.

Other initiatives

Consistent with its broad remit under the Act, the eSafety Commissioner also provides audience-specific content to help educate all Australians about online safety. This includes resources for young people, women, teachers, parents, seniors and community groups.

The Online Content Scheme in the Broadcasting Services Act 1992

The Commissioner also administers the Online Content Scheme under Schedule 5 and Schedule 7 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992.

Under this Scheme, the Office may investigate valid complaints about online content, and take action on material found to be prohibited or potentially prohibited. The categories of content captured under this Scheme are outlined on our Types of offensive or illegal content page. The Scheme is underpinned by the National Classification Scheme that also applies to films, computer games and publications.

The Online Content Scheme interconnects with the role of law enforcement and the international community of Internet Hotlines, INHOPE, which deals with illegal content online and aims to combat online child sexual abuse.

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