Australian Electronic Security Commissioner Julie Inman Grant has been reappointed for another five years as new laws giving her new internet opt-out powers come into effect.
Ms Inman Grant, a former Microsoft, Twitter and Adobe executive, has been e-security commissioner since 2017. On Sunday, Communications Minister Paul Fletcher announced she would remain in the post until 2027 with another maximum term of nomination.
The renewal comes as the controversial Online Safety Act comes into force, giving Ms Inman Grant new powers to issue takedown notices to a range of online services in relation to online content deemed harmful.
“The Online Safety Act comes into effect today and Ms Inman Grant’s reappointment provides certainty, particularly to community organizations and industry who have worked with the Office of the Electronic Safety Commissioner for some time. “, Mr. Fletcher said.
“Today’s renewal and simultaneous entry into force of the Online Safety Act will strengthen Australia’s position as a global leader in online safety.”
Ms Inman Grant was appointed Electronic Safety Commissioner in 2017 when the government agency responsible for children’s online safety extended its remit to the online safety of all Australians and was renamed Electronic Safety Commissioner.
The commissioner is an independent statutory holder, supported by around 67 staff, contractors and the national media regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority. The office has an annual budget of around $25 million, but will receive more this year to support its new powers this year.
It has traditionally focused on cyberbullying and image abuse complaint programs, online safety awareness and research, and administered a content takedown program for prohibited, hateful or violent content.
With enforcement of the Online Safety Act from Sunday, the Electronic Safety Commissioner will be in charge of a “world’s first adult cyber abuse programme”, enhanced powers to tackle abuse based image and cyberbullying of children, and an updated program to deal with illegal and harmful content.
The new law includes strengthened information-gathering powers for the commissioner and a framework to create baseline online safety expectations for the tech industry, as well as a regime for developing codes and standards Of the industry.
But critics of the new law say it gives too much power to the unelected official to interpret and arbitrate online content, will hurt the adult entertainment industry and undermine encryption, while doing little to improve online security.
A Senate committee gave the green light to the legislation early last year after a contractual consultation process, while the opposition called for amendments to clarify its scope and “strengthen due process requirements, appeal, monitoring and transparency”.
The Greens called for the legislation to be overhauled, but it was finally passed by parliament in June last year.
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