The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has welcomed the decision by the Digital Industry Group Inc (DIGI) to launch a public complaints portal and an independent Complaints Sub-Committee to resolve complaints about possible breaches by signatories to the Australian Code of Practice on Disinformation and Misinformation (Code), which is designed to add accountability measures for digital platforms in Australia and support their compliance with the Code. DIGI has also appointed an independent expert to fact check and attest signatories’ annual transparency reports under the Code going forward to further incentivise best practice and compliance.
The Code is a self-regulatory industry code released in February 2021 to provide safeguards against the spread of online misinformation and disinformation, a topic that many Australians are concerned about right now particularly in light of the spread of COVID-19 and vaccine misinformation online.
Signatories to the Code commit to safeguards to protect Australians against harm from online disinformation and misinformation, and to adopting measures that reduce its spread and visibility, as well as releasing annual transparency reports about their efforts under the Code.
According to DIGI, the expanded self-regulatory measures will "further strengthen [the application of the Code] with independent oversight from experts, and public accountability.” The ACMA agrees in principle, with Chair Nerida O'Loughlin noting that "a responsive complaints-handling system with robust governance is a critical component of an effective self-regulatory regime, particularly in the online environment.” However the ACMA has not ruled out "whether expanding the committee’s remit will be necessary" down the track depending on the practical impact of the latest measures introduced by the DIGI.
"A responsive complaints-handling system with robust governance is a critical component of an effective self-regulatory regime, particularly in the online environment" - ACMA Chair Nerida O'Loughlin.