Industry standards – public consultation
Industry Standards will operate alongside the registered Industry Codes to protect Australians from illegal and restricted online content.
Submissions are now open to provide feedback on our draft Designated Internet Services Standard and Relevant Electronic Services Standard for class 1A and class 1B material.
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 terrorist material.
The second phase of codes development, focusing on class 2 material such as online pornography, has not yet commenced.
On 31 May 2023, the eSafety Commissioner declined to register the draft Designated Internet Services Code and draft Relevant Electronic Services Code for class 1A and class 1B material. The draft codes did not meet the statutory requirements for registration because they did not contain appropriate community safeguards for users in Australia.
Given the absence of appropriate community safeguards, it is necessary for the eSafety Commissioner to determine industry standards for Relevant Electronic Services and Designated Internet Services for class 1A and class 1B material.
eSafety commenced consultation on the two draft industry standards on 20 November 2023.
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.
Submissions on the draft standards
The eSafety Commissioner invites submissions from industry, other stakeholders and the public on the draft Standards. Views expressed through this consultation will assist the eSafety Commissioner to finalise the draft Relevant Electronic Services Standard and draft Designated Internet Services Standard under the Online Safety Act 2021.
A plain language Discussion Paper outlines eSafety’s overarching approach to the draft Standards and includes questions to assist stakeholders to identify and respond to key issues. We have 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.
How to make a submission
We welcome written submissions, which can be made via:
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Mail: Executive Manager, Industry Regulation and Legal Services, office of the eSafety Commissioner PO Box Q500, Queen Victoria Building NSW 1230
Each submission should be accompanied by:
- the name of the individual or organisation making the submission
- a name for publication purposes (this can be the name of the individual or organisation, or a pseudonym, or ‘anonymous’)
- contact details (such as a telephone number, postal address or email address).
A submitter may claim confidentiality over their name and/or contact details (see the Discussion Paper for further information).
The closing date for submissions is 21 December 2023.
Please contact us via email at codes@eSafety.gov.au if you require a time extension to make a submission. eSafety recognises that some of the proposals such as those specific to generative AI technology were not raised in the previous industry codes consultation process and that more time may be required to respond to those proposals.
If you require an alternative method of making a submission, please contact eSafety.
Publication of submissions
In the interests of transparency, eSafety intends to publish submissions we receive on our website, including any personal information in the submissions. As submissions will be made public, please ensure that you do not include any personal information that you do not want published.