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Combatting online Islamophobia and racism in Australia: the case for an eSafety duty of care

Social media Digital communications Racial vilification Religious discrimination Islamophobia Cyber safety

This report, commissioned by the Islamic Council of Victoria (ICV), argues that the failure of social media platforms to improve their demonstrably ineffectual systems for the review of hateful material, coupled with the grave harms of online Islamophobia, necessitates government intervention.

While there are a number of competing approaches to the regulation of social media, the ICV’s preference is to reform the systems that have enabled and, indeed, at times encouraged the widespread and unchecked dissemination of hate speech, rather than attempt the practically impossible task of taking down hundreds of millions of individual pieces of anti-Muslim content.

To implement this approach, the ICV proposes that Australia place a statutory duty on platforms to take reasonable care to protect users from harm (the ‘eSafety duty of care’), similar to the regime set to be established by the UK’s Online Safety Bill 2021. Regardless of the particular regulatory response taken, however, this report makes clear that something must be done. If not to improve the mental wellbeing of Muslim users, then at least to ensure that the events of the Christchurch attacks are never repeated.

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