Industry codes and standards

Industry codes and standards will protect Australians from illegal and harmful material online.

The Online Safety Act, which commenced on 23 January 2022, provided for industry bodies or associations to develop new codes to regulate certain types of harmful online material, and for eSafety to register the codes, if they meet the statutory requirements. If a code does not meet the requirements, then eSafety can develop an industry standard for that section of the online industry instead.

‘Class 1’ and ‘class 2’ material, to be addressed by the industry codes or industry standards, 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.

Codes and standards are to 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.

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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 industry codes to address class 1 content. 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 phase approach to codes development outlined in eSafety’s position paper. The first phase has focused on class 1 material, including child sexual exploitation material and terrorist material.  

On 23 June 2022, eSafety issued a variation of the notices, to change the due date for codes to be provided to eSafety.

Public and industry consultation on industry codes (phase 1)

Public and industry consultation on the draft codes is the responsibility of the industry associations.

Public consultation for the first phase of codes occurred in September 2022.

Submissions received as part of the industry associations’ consultation can be found at

Submission of draft industry codes (phase 1) and eSafety's preliminary views

Following public consultation, the industry associations submitted draft industry codes to eSafety on 18 November 2022. The industry associations also submitted to eSafety a formal request for registration, the submissions log and industry associations' response to public consultation. The industry associations published the log and response at that time.

The submitted codes were published by the industry associations on 22 February 2023 and are available at

eSafety's preliminary views

eSafety considered the draft industry codes submitted by the industry associations and on 9 February 2023, the eSafety Commissioner wrote to the industry associations to inform them of her preliminary views that the draft industry codes do not provide appropriate community safeguards and are unlikely to meet the statutory requirements for registration. 

The eSafety Commissioner invited the industry associations to respond and/or resubmit draft industry codes that addressed eSafety’s feedback. These are the letters sent to the industry associations in relation to each draft industry code.

The eSafety Commissioner granted an extension to the industry associations to respond to eSafety’s letters and/or resubmit draft industry codes to 31 March 2023.

Decision on the first phase of industry codes

On 31 March 2023, industry associations resubmitted eight industry codes to eSafety for registration. The draft codes submitted can be found on the industry associations’ Online Safety website.

After careful and comprehensive assessment the eSafety Commissioner has decided to register five of these industry codes:

  • Social Media Services
  • App Distribution Services
  • Hosting Services
  • Internet Carriage Services
  • Equipment.

These industry codes will come into effect six months after they are published on the Register of online industry codes and industry standards

The eSafety Commissioner has decided not to register the Relevant Electronic Services and Designated Internet Services codes because they do not provide appropriate community safeguards for users in Australia.

eSafety will draft industry standards for the Relevant Electronic Services and Designated Internet Services industry sections.

The drafting of industry standards will involve further engagement with industry and eSafety will also consult publicly. 

The eSafety Commissioner has decided to reserve her decision regarding the Internet Search Engine Services Code. This is because the code, as currently drafted, does not sufficiently capture recently proposed changes to search engines incorporating generative artificial intelligence features into these services. The eSafety Commissioner has asked the relevant industry associations to submit a new Internet Search Engine Services Code within four weeks that addresses the risk associated with this new technology. 

eSafety has published a summary of the decisions made for each industry code in the Register of online industry codes and industry standards.

The second phase of codes development, focusing on class 2 material such as online pornography, has not yet commenced.

The industry codes and standards environment

eSafety intends that its formal regulatory powers will be underpinned by industry codes and industry standards, 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.

Register of online industry codes and industry standards

eSafety is required to maintain a register of online industry codes and industry standards. Find out more information about the register and the notices issued to representatives of online industry sections.