Industry codes

The online industry has the opportunity to develop modern, robust and effective codes to keep Australians safe online. 

The Online Safety Act, which commenced on 23 January 2022, provides for industry bodies or associations to develop the new codes to regulate certain types of harmful online material, and for eSafety to register the codes.

This ‘class 1’ and ‘class 2’ material ranges from the most seriously harmful online content, such as videos showing the sexual abuse of children or acts of terrorism, through to content which is inappropriate for children, such as online pornography.

The codes will apply to the participants of eight key sections of the online industry, including providers of social media, messaging, search engine and app distribution services, as well as internet and hosting service providers, manufacturers and suppliers of equipment used to access online services and those that install and maintain the equipment.

Development of industry codes

In September 2021, eSafety released a position paper to help the online industry develop codes.

The paper set out 11 policy positions regarding the substance, design, development and administration of industry codes, as well as eSafety’s preferred outcomes-based model for the codes.

eSafety engaged with a number of industry bodies and associations that responded to the position paper and continued to work closely with the industry.

On 11 April 2022, eSafety issued notices formally requesting the development of the codes. These were issued to six industry associations that formed a steering group to oversee codes development for the eight industry sections outlined under the Online Safety Act.

These industry associations are:

  • Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association
  • BSA – The Software Alliance
  • Communications Alliance
  • Consumer Electronics Suppliers’ Association
  • Digital Industry Group Inc
  • Interactive Games and Entertainment Association.

The industry associations indicated they would adopt the two-phased approach to codes development outlined in eSafety’s position paper. The first phase has focused on high end ‘class 1’ material, including child sexual exploitation material and terrorist material.

Public and industry consultation 

Public and industry consultation on the draft codes, which were released on 1 September 2022, is the responsibility of the industry associations.

This is an important opportunity for members of the public and other stakeholders to have their say on the draft codes, and eSafety encourages you to provide feedback to the industry associations. 

The draft codes, and information about how to make a submission, can be found at onlinesafety.org.au

eSafety has not endorsed the draft codes and will undertake an assessment of whether they meet the statutory requirements when industry submits them for registration in late 2022.  

The second phase of codes development, focusing on ‘class 2’ content such as online pornography, will take place after the first phase is completed. 

The industry codes environment

eSafety intends that its formal regulatory powers will be underpinned by co-regulated industry codes, built on a solid foundation of Basic Online Safety Expectations being developed under the new Online Safety Act. All these elements will work together to help keep Australians safe online.