Need help dealing with violent or distressing online content? Learn more

Regulatory schemes

eSafety’s purpose is to help safeguard Australians at risk of online harms and to promote safer, more positive online experiences.

eSafety has a range of regulatory functions and powers, which we apply in a flexible and integrated way to promote compliance and achieve good outcomes for all Australians.

These powers are enhanced by the Online Safety Act 2021 (the Act), which commenced on 23 January 2022.

Where appropriate, eSafety will continue to work collaboratively with the online industry to resolve individual complaints.  

Where a collaborative approach is not appropriate or sufficient to protect Australians, we will draw on our robust range of regulatory options.

On this page:

Our regulatory posture and priorities

This document explains our regulatory posture (or philosophy), as well as our regulatory priorities for the 2021-22 financial year. These regulatory priorities primarily focused on putting into operation the enhanced protections of the Online Safety Act 2021. We are also continuing to strengthen the support we give Australians through our established schemes and programs, laying the foundations for our new regulatory regimes, and driving online industry improvements through Safety by Design.

Compliance and Enforcement Policy

This Compliance and Enforcement Policy explains the powers available to eSafety to encourage and enforce compliance with the Online Safety Act. These powers come from both the Act and the Regulatory Powers (Standard Provisions) Act 2014 (Cth) (Regulatory Powers Act).

Phase 1 Industry Codes

The Phase 1 Industry Codes for class 1A and class 1B material require providers of certain online services to take proactive steps to reduce the availability of seriously harmful online content, such as child sexual exploitation and pro-terror material. 

From 16 December 2023, it is mandatory for providers of Social Media Services, App Distribution Services, Internet Carriage Service, Hosting Services and Equipment Services to comply with the requirements under the applicable industry code. The industry code for Search Engine Services came into effect on 12 March 2024.

eSafety has published Regulatory Guidance to assist service providers to comply with requirements under these industry codes.

Basic Online Safety Expectations

The Basic Online Safety Expectations, known as ‘the Expectations’, are a key element of the Online Safety Act 2021.

The Expectations aim to ensure that social media, messaging, gaming and app services and website providers take reasonable steps to keep Australians safe online. The Act provides eSafety with powers to require reporting from providers to improve transparency and accountability.

The Basic Online Safety Expectations Regulatory Guidance was updated in September 2023 with additional information for industry, including reasonable steps providers can take to ensure compliance with the Expectations.

Adult Cyber Abuse Scheme

eSafety operates a reporting scheme for adult cyber abuse as part of the Online Safety Act. This gives Australian adults who are targeted by seriously harmful online abuse somewhere to turn, if the online service providers have failed to act on reports to them.

The Adult Cyber Abuse Scheme was updated in December 2023.

Cyberbullying Scheme

The Online Safety Act expanded Australia’s world-first Cyberbullying Scheme to provide protection to children being bullied in all online environments, not just on social media.

The Cyberbullying Scheme was updated in December 2023.

Image-Based Abuse Scheme

Online platforms can be forced to take down image-based abuse material faster under strengthened protections that are a key part of Australia’s new Online Safety Act.

The Image-Based Abuse Scheme was updated in February 2024.

Online Content Scheme

The Online Content Scheme regulatory guidance provides an overview of the actions available to eSafety under the Online Safety Act 2021 to address illegal and restricted online content.

The Online Content Scheme was updated in December 2023.

Abhorrent Violent Conduct Powers

This document provides an overview of the actions available to eSafety under the Online Safety Act 2021 to prevent Australian internet users from accessing material that promotes, incites, instructs in or depicts abhorrent violent conduct.

The Abhorrent Violent Coduct Powers Scheme was updated in February 2024.

More information

Check our advice and resources, including when and how to report a complaint to eSafety:

More about cyberbullying

More about adult cyber abuse

More about image-based abuse

More about illegal and restricted online content

 

Last updated: 11/03/2024