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 new codes to regulate certain types of harmful online material, and for eSafety to register the codes, if they meet the statutory requirements and provide appropriate community safeguards.

This ‘class 1’ and ‘class 2’ material, to be addressed by the industry codes, 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 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 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 high end 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. Industry associations submitted draft codes to eSafety for registration on 18 November 2022.

Registration of industry codes

eSafety is now considering whether the industry codes meet the statutory requirements set out in the Online Safety Act. eSafety has not currently endorsed the codes. 

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

Public and industry consultation 

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 onlinesafety.org.au.

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.

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.