Libs target big tech for online safety

Mabel R. Acton

Big tech will be required to enhance devices with safety controls that are easy for parents to use and hard for children to bypass, if the coalition is returned to government.

Technology companies would need to create the safeguards for smartphones and tablets as part of a new eSafety package.

The eSafety Commissioner would work with Apple, Samsung and others to design device settings and a binding code under the Online Safety Act.

If the industry does not create these controls within 12 months of the election, the government would move to force companies to comply with regulations.

“This is one of my great missions, can I tell you, of mental health in this country and the impact that social media is having on impacting negatively in our society, our community, our families,” Mr Morrison said.

“If we want to be strong as a country … then we need to be dealing with this stuff and we need to be ensuring that the online world, the digital world, is a safe place for Australians.

“The rules of the real world must apply in the digital world.”

Mr Morrison said tech companies will be required to pre-install parental controls on tablets and devices.

“(Kids) know how to get around all the other things – that’s just real life and we live it just like everyone else does. And what we want is safety by design.”

Tech companies will be required to have this technology operating within a year of the election, the prime minister said.

“I have made those threats before to big tech companies and I followed through on every single occasion,” he said.

The government’s e-safety package includes $23 million to raise awareness of eSafety support in schools and provide teacher training and resources.

Some $10 million will go to the eSafety Commissioner to make it easier for people to report online harms, by expanding co-ordination with other regulatory and law enforcement agencies.

Another $2 million has been earmarked for an online safety grants program to support women and girls in culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

Mr Morrison also addressed a campaign rally in the marginal seat of Reid, which Labor is considered a strong prospect of winning.

Warringah Liberal candidate Katherine Deves, who also attended and was briefly acknowledged by Mr Morrison, made a hasty exit without answering any questions from the media pack.

Ms Deves has been under fire for her controversial comments on transgender women in sport.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg launched his campaign for the seat of Kooyong on Sunday, taking aim at his independent opponent Monique Ryan.

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