DIGI welcomes the Government providing ACMA with oversight powers over misinformation
MEDIA RELEASE, 20.01.2023: The Digital Industry Group Inc. (DIGI) has broadly welcomed the announcement by the Government today about the ACMA receiving greater oversight powers over mis- and disinformation, and looks forward to engaging with the details once released.
DIGI reiterated its in principle support for the granting of new powers to the ACMA that are consistent with the ACMA’s recommendations, as reflected in the June 2021 Report to government on the adequacy of digital platforms’ disinformation and news quality measures.
These powers would enable the ACMA to have a longer-term mandate to oversee The Australian Code of Practice on Disinformation and Misinformation, which DIGI developed and administers.
DIGI Managing Director Sunita Bose said:
“DIGI broadly welcomes the Government’s announcement today to provide the ACMA with new powers in relation to mis- and disinformation, and we look forward to engaging with the details during public consultation.”
“DIGI is committed to driving improvements in the management of mis- and disinformation in Australia, demonstrated through our track record of work with signatory companies to develop and strengthen the industry code.”
“We welcome that this announcement aims to reinforce DIGI’s efforts, and that it formalises our long-term working relationship with the ACMA in relation to combatting misinformation online.”
In December 2022, DIGI strengthened The Australian Code of Practice on Misinformation and Disinformation, making changes in response to stakeholder feedback received through a planned review of the code. Changes included an improved definition of ‘harm’ in relation to mis and disinformation and additional commitments reflecting updates to the strengthened EU Code of Practice. DIGI also introduced more proportionate annual transparency reporting requirements for smaller platforms to encourage them to adopt the code, which can be flexibly applied to different types of digital service providers.
These updates are the latest set in a series of improvements driven by DIGI and code signatories since the code was introduced in February 2021. In October 2021, DIGI introduced independent oversight and a complaints facility to increase accountability. In 2022, independent assessment and best practice reporting guidelines were introduced to drive improvements in the transparency reporting process.
Further background on the The Australian Code of Practice on Disinformation and Misinformation:
The Australian Code of Practice on Disinformation and Misinformation has so far been adopted by eight signatories – Apple, Adobe, Google, Meta, Microsoft, Redbubble, TikTok and Twitter – that have cemented their mandatory commitments, and nominated additional opt-in commitments, through public disclosures on the DIGI website.
Signatories have all released two sets of annual transparency reports under the code; inaugural reports that were released on May 22, 2021 and 2021 calendar year reports released on May 30, 2022. Both sets of reports are available on the DIGI website at digi.org.au/disinformation/transparency.
The Australian Code of Practice on Disinformation and Misinformation was developed in response to policy announced in December 2019, in relation to the ACCC Digital Platforms Inquiry, where the digital industry was asked to develop a voluntary code of practice on disinformation. DIGI developed the original code with assistance from the University of Technology Sydney’s Centre for Media Transition, and First Draft, a global organisation that specialises in helping societies overcome false and misleading information.
Mandatory code commitments include publishing & implementing policies on misinformation and disinformation, providing users with a way to report content against those policies and implementing a range of scalable measures that reduce its spread & visibility (Mandatory commitment #1). Every signatory has agreed to annual transparency reports about those efforts to improve understanding of both the management and scale of mis- and disinformation in Australia (Mandatory commitment #7).
Additionally, there are a series of widely adopted opt-in commitments that signatories select if relevant to their business model: (Commitment #2) Addressing disinformation in paid content; (#3) addressing fake bots and accounts; (#4) transparency about source of content in news and factual information (e.g. promotion of media literacy, partnerships with fact-checkers) and (#5) political advertising; and (#6) partnering with universities/researchers to improve understanding of mis and disinformation.
DIGI is a non-profit industry association that advocates for a thriving Australian digitally-enabled economy where online safety and privacy are protected.