Statement on the passage of the Sharing of Abhorrent Violent Material Bill


Statement from Sunita Bose, Managing Director of DIGI (Digital Industry Group Inc) in response to the passing of the Criminal Code Amendment (Sharing of Abhorrent Violent Material) Bill 2019:


This law, which was conceived and passed in five days without any meaningful consultation, does nothing to address hate speech, which was the fundamental motivation for the tragic Christchurch terrorist attacks. In fact, the only legal definition of hate speech we have under Australian law does not include religious and gender-based speech.

Let’s be clear: no one wants abhorrent content on their websites, and DIGI members work to take this down as quickly as possible. But with the vast volumes of content uploaded to the Internet every second, this is a highly complex problem that requires discussion with the technology industry, legal experts, the media and civil society to get the solution right — that didn’t happen this week.  

“his creates a strict Internet intermediary liability regime that is out of step with the notice-and-takedown regimes in Europe and the United States, and is therefore bad for Internet users as it encourages companies to proactively surveil the vast volumes of user-generated content being uploaded at any given minute.

This ‘pass it now, change it later’ approach to legislation, such as we saw with the encryption law, creates immediate uncertainty for Australia’s technology industry. It threatens employees within any company that has user-generated content to be potentially jailed for the misuse of their services — even if they are unaware of it. This is not how legislation should be made in a democracy like Australia.

Whichever party forms government must commit to taking this law to urgent review by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) as soon as Parliament reconvenes.