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(AUSTRALIA) Social Media Report: Companies could be forced to reveal the identities of anonymous users in an effort to crack down on online under new laws being drafted by the federal government.

#AceNewsReport – Nov.29: The laws would require social media companies to collect the details of all users, and allow courts to force companies to hand over the identities of users to aid defamation cases.

#AceSocialDesk says if you cannot get the ‘Private Data’ one way then Social media companies could be forced to give out names and contact details, under new anti-troll laws for online trolling, another way leaving to be used by governments of the world …

Kindness & Love❤️ says be careful ONLINE do not give too much PRIVATE DATA away to SOCIAL MEDIA COMPANIES as ONE DAY they will USE IT for their own ENDS …Amen

Play Video. Duration: 2 minutes 4 seconds
Scott Morrison announces proposed ‘anti-troll’ social media legislation.

The legislation will be released in draft form this week, and is expected to be introduced to parliament early next year.I’m abused on Twitter for doing my job: Putting up with bullying has always been a feature of political journalism, but something has changed recently, writes Leigh Sales.

Social media companies would also be made legally liable for the content they publish from users, removing liability from individuals and companies that manage pages.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he wanted to close the gap between real life and discourse online.

“The rules that exist in the real world must exist in the digital and online world,” he said.

“The online world shouldn’t be a wild west, where bots and bigots and trolls and others can anonymously go around and harm people and hurt people.”

Under the proposal, social media companies will be required to create a complaints process for people who feel they have been defamed online.

The complaints process will allow people to ask that material be taken down by a user if they feel it is defamatory.

If the user is unwilling to take down the content, or the complainant wants to take further action, the company asks a user for their consent to release their personal details.

If the user does not consent to their details being released, a court order can be made requiring the company to release them — allowing the complainant to pursue defamation action.

Mr Morrison said the government would be happy to intervene in court and take on social media companies trying to avoid releasing personal details.

“We will be looking for test cases that can reinforce these laws,” he said.

“So if the digital companies or others think they’re only just going to have to be dealing with perhaps someone of little means seeking to pursue this, then we will look for those cases.

“We will back them in the courts and we will take them on.”

Mr Morrison said the establishment of a public defender’s office tasked with taking on such cases was under consideration.

Putting a name and face to a troll online

It is not completely clear yet what sort of data social media companies might be required to collect from users, in order to comply with the new laws.

But the indications are it would likely include a user’s name, email address and contact phone number.Online troll quizMounting research suggests trolls don’t necessarily fit the stereotyped image we have of them.….

And the rules would not only apply to new users joining a service, but to existing users too.

The actual mechanism for collecting all that data would be up to the social media companies to figure out.

Companies would not be required to actively monitor posts online and pull down those that are potentially defamatory. They would only have to respond to complaints that are made.

They would only give out a person’s details without their consent at the direction of the Federal Court of Australia, once the court is satisfied that step is necessary.

Asked if he had consulted social media companies on the proposals, Mr Morrison said he had spoken with them regularly — but was happy to proceed without their approval.

“It’s not so much a discussion, I’m telling them what we’re doing, and I’m expecting them to respond,” he said.

“And I will keep taking it further, until they continue to do the responsible thing.”

Unwinding who is responsible for what online

A key part of the new rules is clearing up who takes responsibility for content published online.

A recent High Court case found that the person managing a public page on social media was responsible for comments made by others on that page, rather than the social media company that runs the platform.How to deal with online trollsFrom telling their mum to helping them out, comedian Alice Fraser believes there are many ways to handle trolls.

It meant, for example, that if a media outlet posted a news story on Facebook, it holds legal responsibility for any potentially defamatory comments made by others on that post.

These new laws will push that legal responsibility onto the social media company.

But the laws will also allow the companies to use the complaints system as a defence to defamation action. So effectively, those companies with a functioning complaints system will be shielded from potential defamation cases.

Attorney-General Michaelia Cash said social media companies should carry responsibility for material published on their platform.

“Social media services need to step up, and they need to understand that they have a responsibility in this regard,” she said.

“And that is why this important step providing clarity to all Australians, but in particular, to social media companies — you will be deemed the publisher.”

Labor questions international reach of laws

Federal Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said Labor would wait to see the detail of the new laws before giving a firm position either way on them.

But Mr Albanese said it was not unreasonable to suggest social media companies know the identity of their users.

“It shouldn’t be beyond the capacity of social media to be able to identify people who are engaged in inappropriate activity online,” he said.

“Just like if someone [in a public space] says something that’s defamatory or inappropriate or hurtful, they’re doing it face to face, you can identify them.

“People shouldn’t be able to hide behind anonymous Twitter accounts online and engage in inappropriate activity.”

But he is questioning how easily the laws might be avoided — as trolls simply close their Australian account, and use a foreign IP-address to re-open it.

Doing so would potentially avoid the scope of the laws, if they are only applied to accounts registered in Australia.

“We want to see it’s just not another announcement without an actual delivery,” he said.

“Because the government needs to explain how it can deal with the fact that domestic controls have limitations for what is a global industry.”

Both Twitter and Facebook are yet to comment on the proposals.

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: Nov.29: 2021:

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