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Industry standards – public consultation

Industry Standards will operate alongside the registered Industry Codes to protect Australians from illegal and restricted online content.

Submissions providing feedback on our draft Designated Internet Services Standard and Relevant Electronic Services Standard for class 1A and class 1B material are available on this page.

On this page:

Development of industry standards

The Online Safety Act, which commenced on 23 January 2022, provides for industry bodies to develop new codes to regulate ‘class 1’ and ‘class 2’ illegal and restricted online material, and for eSafety to register 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 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 industry bodies tasked with developing the industry codes adopted a two-phase approach to codes development, as suggested in eSafety’s position paper. The first phase focused on class 1A and class 1B material, including child sexual exploitation material and pro-terror material.

The development of the draft Relevant Electronic Services and Designated Internet Services Standards by eSafety follows the decision of the eSafety Commissioner in May 2023 to decline to register industry drafted codes for these online sectors. Six industry codes, covering other industry sectors, were registered by eSafety in 2023 as those codes were found to provide appropriate community safeguards in relation to class 1A and 1B material.

You can read more information about the development and registration of the codes.

The draft Online Safety (Relevant Electronic Services – Class 1A and 1B Material) Industry Standard 2024 covers a wide category of services that enable people to communicate with each other online, including by email, instant messaging, short messages services (SMS), multimedia message services (MMS) and chat, as well as services that enable people to play online games with each other and dating services. It can be downloaded here:

The draft Online Safety (Designated Internet Services – Class 1A and 1B Material) Industry Standard 2024 covers a broad category of services that include many apps and websites (apart from those covered by other industry codes or standards), as well as online file storage services. It can be downloaded here:

Our approach to the standards

The industry Standards for designated internet services and relevant electronic services will operate alongside registered Codes for other sections of the online industry. The industry codes cover social media services, app distribution services, hosting services, internet carriage services, equipment providers and internet search engine services.

The Standards will impose a set of mandatory compliance measures, requiring service providers to:

  • take proactive steps to create and maintain a safe online environment
  • empower end-users in Australia to manage access and exposure to class 1A and class 1B material
  • strengthen transparency of, and accountability for, class 1A and class 1B material on their services.

Consistent with the registered industry Codes, the draft Standards adopt an outcomes- and risk-based approach. The requirements proposed in the Standards are proportionate to the risk a service presents in respect of class 1A and 1B material. The requirements are also outcomes-based, in that they set out what they are intended to achieve while providing flexibility in how those outcomes are to be achieved.

The Standards will require some online services to implement additional measures aimed at reducing the spread of child sexual abuse material and pro-terror content on their platforms.

They will not require industry to break or weaken end-to-end encryption, monitor the text of private communication or indiscriminately scan large amounts of personal data.

Call for submissions

In November 2023 the eSafety Commissioner invited submissions from industry, other stakeholders and the public on the draft Relevant Electronic Services Standard and draft Designated Internet Services Standard under the Online Safety Act.  

A plain language Discussion Paper was released, outlining eSafety’s overarching approach to the draft Standards and including questions to assist stakeholders to identify and respond to key issues. We also prepared a Fact Sheet for the draft Relevant Electronic Services Standard and a Fact Sheet for the draft Designated Internet Services Standard, setting out eSafety’s position in response to key questions.

All stakeholders are encouraged to review the Discussion Paper and the Fact Sheets prior to making a submission. 

The questions in the Discussion Paper are a guide only and not intended to limit the scope of submissions. eSafety requests that submitters provide reasons to support any views expressed. Practical examples, research and other evidence are welcomed. 

Targeted consultation

In addition to the written submission process, eSafety held two roundtable discussions in December 2023. These sessions provided stakeholders the opportunity to share their perspectives with eSafety and with each other. 

The first consultation included representatives from industry associations and service providers from the two industry sections. The second involved stakeholders from different civil society organisations and academics. 

eSafety thanks participants for their time and thoughtful contributions to the workshop. The discussion is an important contribution to informing the development of the draft standards.

The following deidentified summaries represent high-level feedback provided by participants during the sessions, and summarises the feedback into themes. The views and opinions in these summaries are those of the participants and do not reflect eSafety’s position.

Publication of submissions

The 51 written submissions received by eSafety on the draft Standards are published at the end of this page.

eSafety is closely considering the submissions received and what amendments should be made, including amendments in order to provide greater certainty to both industry participants and end-users. For more context, please see our media statement on the publication of these submissions.

The published submissions have been redacted to remove personal or sensitive information (such as physical addresses, telephone numbers and email addresses). Information that a stakeholder has clearly identified as confidential where eSafety has accepted their confidentiality claim has also been redacted.  

The views and opinions in the submissions are those of the stakeholders and do not reflect eSafety’s position.

Submissions

Last updated: 26/03/2024