Australian Online Safety Act – Industry Codes
What is the eSafety Commissioner?
The eSafety Commissioner (eSafety) is an independent government agency that regulates online safety.
eSafety have powers under legislation that covers things like cyberbullying, image-based abuse and illegal online content. You can report things like cyberbullying or illegal content to eSafety: Report online harm | eSafety Commissioner
You can visit the eSafety Commissioner’s website at www.esafety.gov.au to learn more about its role and functions, and to access its online safety services and resources.
What are Industry Codes?
Under the Online Safety laws in Australia, the eSafety Commissioner can ask industry to create Industry Codes (i.e., rules) to ensure online safety is enacted in various industries.
Industry Codes are essentially a set of rules that are created by industry, and industry bodies (like IGEA). These Codes were created in a collaborative process, and for the Codes to be registered and therefore effective, they needed to be accepted by the eSafety Commissioner.
IGEA was involved in creating several codes that affect the video games industry, including the following which have been registered:
You can find more information, including copies of the Codes, here: https://onlinesafety.org.au/ and here: Register of industry codes and industry standards for online safety | eSafety Commissioner
What content to the Codes target?
These codes specifically ask parts of the industry to address Class 1 material which is made up of Class 1A and 1B material. These materials are part of the illegal and restricted online content that the eSafety commissioner regulates.
- Class 1A material includes child sexual exploitation, pro-terror and extreme crime and violence material.
- Class 1B material includes crime and violence, and drug-related material.
What does the Apps Distribution Services Code do?
This Code applies to ‘App Distributors’, like app stores. The Codes themselves include requirements for App Distributors including to make age/content ratings available, have certain safety staff available, and provide online safety information.
What does the Equipment Code do?
This Code applies to manufacturers and supplier of any equipment that connects to the internet, including gaming consoles. The Codes themselves are designed to assign certain obligations to certain devices, according to their risk. This includes things like ensuring there is a right to complain, ensuring there are tolls that reduce risk of harm to children, and including information about eSafety on packaging.
How do the Industry Codes keep players safe?
These codes help keep video game players safe by ensuring that the apps and equipment they use are free from harmful online content and that they have access to reporting and support mechanisms if they encounter such content.
They also help protect children from exposure to inappropriate online content and empower parents and guardians to manage their children’s online activities.
Are there any other codes?
Sort of! When the eSafety Commissioner does not register an Industry Code, they draft an alternative called an Industry Standard. eSafety is currently seeking feedback on two standards:
- The draft Online Safety (Relevant Electronic Services – Class 1A and 1B Material) Industry Standard 2024; and
- The draft Online Safety (Designated Internet Services – Class 1A and 1B Material) Industry Standard 2024.
In early 2024, we will hopefully have an idea of what these standards look like, and what they do.