eSafety office uses powers to demand answers from 'big tech'
eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant

Apple, Meta, others must show how they meet “basic online safety expectations”.

eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant will issue “legal notices” to Apple, Meta (including its WhatsApp operation), Microsoft (including Skype), Snap, and Omegle, requiring them to detail anti-child-exploitation measures.

The notices are part of the powers created by the Online Safety Act 2021, under which the government sets out what are called “basic online safety expectations”.

Those expectations set out the minimum safety measures expected of tech companies operating in Australia.

In its announcement, the Office of the eSafety Commissioner explained that the notices are an information gathering exercise that “may reflect a range of factors, including the number of complaints that eSafety has received, the reach of a service, or whether limited information is available on a company’s safety actions or interventions on their services.”

Risks the commissioner wishes to identify include whether adults can contact children on a platform, along with features like “livestreaming, anonymity, and end-to-end encryption” which the commissioner believes proliferates harms.

The office warned that if a company doesn’t respond to a notice within 28 days, it could face penalties up to $555,000 a day.

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