The Australian Prime Minister is not known for his technological prowess. He has been involved in many debates with “big technologies” on make them pay and ask them to implement absurd changes to their platform. But on Thursday, Scott Morrison said he wanted people to stop being “cowards” online and, whether or not, reignited the conversation about cracking down on anonymous social media accounts.
Buckle up, you’re gone for a ride.
“Cowards who go to social media anonymously, defame people, harass them, intimidate them and make defamatory statements – they have to be responsible for what they say,” he said during a press conference.
“We are responsible for the things we say and do, but yet social media has become a palace of cowards where people can just go in there, not say who they are, destroy people’s lives and say the crudest. and offensive things to people. And do it with impunity.
According to Morrison, people should have to identify who they are. (He basically supports the appeal of his deputy Barnaby Joyce and our attorney general Michaelia Cash). But he places the blame on the likes of Facebook.
“Businesses, if they don’t want to say who they are, well, they’re not a platform anymore, they’re a publisher and you know what that means,” he said.
The implications of this, my friends, is that a publisher is responsible for what is said on their platform and therefore libel law comes into play.
So what does Morrison want?
If you think back to the last 18 months or so, Australia has had a few attractive epic laws pass Parliament. We had the Online Security Act, which gives the Electronic Security Commissioner (among many other things) the ability to ask social media sites to remove inappropriate content. There is also the Media Bargaining Code which aimed to get tech giants to catch up with Australian newspapers that have lost their traditional income model.
Earlier this year, the PM told me that although the global tech giants are changing the world, his government cannot let them rule it.
Now Morrison is more threatening.
“People should be responsible for what they say… and the technology that allows it – and the lack of accountability that surrounds it – is just not activated,” he said.
“You can expect us to look into this even more.”
He praised the laws I mentioned above and reaffirmed Australia as a “world leader” on these issues. He said his government intended to set the tone. That pace, while not yet defined, could include forcing those who use anonymous social media accounts to use their real Name.
What about account verification?
I’ve been following this discussion for a while. About a year ago, Australian Online Safety Commissioner Julie Inman-Grant rejected practicality a “know your customer” regime for social media companies to verify the identity of their users.
Yes, such a regime would put an end to anonymous social media accounts, but logistically, it is a colossal task.
“It would be very difficult, I think, for Facebook, for example, to re-identify – or identify – its 2.7 billion users,” she said. “How do they practically go back and do that in part with the way the Internet is structured.”
Although she admitted that it was not impossible, she said it would create a series of other problems and that removing the possibility of anonymity or the use of a pseudonym is unlikely. deters cyberbullying, etc.
And forcing people to use their real names? There would be huge declining civil liberties, especially in the United States.
He doesn’t yet require you to change your name from Seymour Butz to your birth name (there’s a whole other discussion to be had about the implications of forcing people to use a dead name), but he wants to hold big tech accountable. of the actions of its users.
And it makes sense to ask people to stop being bullies or to stop spreading misinformation. But do I have to remind you how long it took to sort out what was going on in your home, Prime Minister?