Australian Communications Minister Michelle Rowland Tries To Justify New Censorship Law

Australian Communications Minister Michelle Rowland is trying to push back against claims by Coalition MPs that the proposed upcoming legislation would lead to an Orwellian “Ministry of Truth.” The newly proposed legislation aims to strengthen the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s (ACMA) abilities to manage digital platforms that are seen to propagate “misinformation and disinformation.” However, critics rightly know that the move will threaten the very essence of free speech. Despite these assurances, skeptics like Coalition communication spokesman David Coleman argue that the regulator will inevitably need to form an opinion on what constitutes misinformation to ensure platforms comply with the new legislation. “For government to start defining what can and cannot be said in a democracy is hugely concerning. This bill would allow that to happen,” Coleman said, to the Sydney Morning Herald. The proposed bill gives ACMA the authority to collect information from digital platforms about how they adhere to existing codes. Moreover, ACMA will have the power to introduce a new “code” for companies that repeatedly fail to address so-called misinformation and disinformation or establish an industry-wide “standard” requiring the removal of harmful content. Failing to adhere to these standards will carry significant penalties. These include substantial fines, either $6.88 million or 5% of a company’s global turnover, whichever amount is higher. This policy approach is not without its opponents. Critics argue the broad definitions of misinformation and disinformation as material that is “false, misleading or deceptive” and “reasonably likely to cause serious harm” could be abused…Australian Communications Minister Michelle Rowland Tries To Justify New Censorship Law