Search giant Google has made clear its displeasure with the government’s proposed Online Safety Act, claiming it had raised a number of issues with the legislation during the previous consultation period that have not been addressed.
On Monday evening, a handful of submissions received by the Senate Standing Committee on Environment and Communications about the government’s controversial Online Safety Act were published.
The Online Safety Act is a new law that would significantly increase the government appointed eSafety Commissioner’s powers, including allowing her to force web services to remove online content in some situations and, if they don’t comply, order that website or app blocked in Australia.
When the draft version of the law was introduced, groups including representatives for Australia’s sex industry and Digital Rights Watch said the proposed legislation could threaten their livelihoods and basic freedoms.
After two months of consultation, the Government decided to put forward legislation not addressing those issues, which has since been given to the Senate committee for a turbo inquiry.
What did Google have to say about the proposed Online Safety Act?
Google Australia made it clear in its published submission that it was not a fan of the speed at which this all was moving.
“This bill was introduced into the House of Representatives a mere ten (10) days after the public consultation period on the Exposure Draft of the Bill closed,” Google Australia’s Samantha Yorke wrote.
Yorke raised a number of issues with the law as it stands, including:
- A warning that any notices to remove content could result in entire websites or apps being taken down because “it is often impossible for a cloud provider to remove individual pieces of content.”
- A lack of evidence supporting the bill’s propose decrease in maximum turnaround time to remove content from 48 hours to 24 hours, regardless of complexity.
- Inconsistency in definitions about what kind of content is considered intimate images (“a full clothed person photograph without attire of religious of cultural significance is considered an intimate image”
- That the threshold two failures to abide by the Online Safety Act for request that a service is banned in Australia is too low.
Meanwhile, the Department of Communications confirmed to Gizmodo that it is seeking permission to release the 370 submissions to their consultation.
Submissions to the Senate inquiry into the Online Safety Act close today.