Journal article

Cyber-racism and other forms of cyber-bullying have become an increasing part of the internet mainstream, with 35% of Australian internet users witnessing such behaviour online. Cyber-racism poses a double challenge for effective regulation: a lack of consensus on how to define unacceptable expressions of racism; and the novel and unprecedented ways in which racism can flourish on the internet. The regulation of racism on the internet sits at the crossroads of different legal domains, but there has never been a comprehensive evaluation of these channels. This article examines the current legal and regulatory terrain around cyber-racism in Australia. This analysis exposes a gap in the capacity of current regulatory mechanisms to provide a prompt, efficient and enforceable system for responding to harmful online content of a racial nature. Drawing on recent legislative developments in tackling harmful content online, we consider the potential benefits and limitations of key elements of a civil penalties scheme to fill the gap in the present regulatory environment. We argue for a multifaceted approach, which encompasses enforcement mechanisms to target both perpetrators and intermediaries once inplatform avenues are exhausted. Through our proposal, we can strengthen the arsenal of tools we have to deal with cyber-racism.

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