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Online safety laws are here to protect you (English for Indian and Nepali community)

No one should have to suffer severe online abuse. 

The Online Safety Act 2021 helps eSafety to remove severe online abuse and protect Australians from online harms. On this page, you will find information on what the laws cover and the support available to you.

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When the person abusing you is hiding behind a screen, stopping them can feel impossible.

Australia’s online safety laws help eSafety to remove reported content and protect Australians from severe online abuse.

The laws help to protect people against someone posting content that is severely harmful to another person’s mental or physical health, or sharing explicit images of them without their consent.

The laws also allow the worst types of violent and illegal online content to be removed, to protect Australians from exposure. 

eSafety.gov.au is where you can find information about what to do if you experience severe abuse on the internet.

If the issue you are experiencing is adult cyber abuse or child cyberbullying, you should contact the online platform or service directly first and request the content is taken down. 

If they do not help you, or the issue is related to image-based abuse or illegal and violent online content, you can report the problem to eSafety on esafety.gov.au and they will investigate the problem and help get the content removed.

It's important to collect evidence, such as screenshots of the harmful posts or messages. Check eSafety.gov.au for online guides to help you do this.

The laws can assist with reports across social media, gaming, messaging apps, websites and other online platforms.

The laws mean online platforms can be directed to remove severely harmful content and if they don't remove the content in time, eSafety can take enforcement action.

It is free to make a report for everyone living in Australia, including people on temporary visas. Making a report will not impact your visa status in any way. You can also report on behalf of someone else if you have their permission.

Online safety laws are here to protect you, so you don’t have to manage severe online abuse alone.

For translation support, call TIS National on 131 450 and ask for an interpreter.

To find out more information visit eSafety.gov.au

Online Safety Explainer Animation English

What the online safety laws protect against

Australia’s online safety laws protect against severe online abuse that is harmful to the mental or physical health of an individual.

Click on the tabs for definitions and examples of what the laws cover.

Online safety laws help remove adult cyber abuse material. This includes material that targets anyone living in Australia, is posted with the intention of causing severe harm, and is menacing, harassing or offensive.

Example:

***Prisha* posted some photos of herself wearing traditional Indian attire to Instagram. After she posted the photo, she started to receive threatening comments and messages from a fake account. The comments called her derogatory names, and the owner of the fake account threatened to harm her. Prisha reported the account to Instagram, deleted the user’s comments and blocked him. A few hours later, she started to receive more comments from a different account.

This account private messaged her, again calling her derogatory names and threatening her with violence. Prisha reported the account to Instagram and blocked it, but she was frightened. It was not long before another account surfaced and threatened her. This time, the account posted the photo of Prisha to their profile with a caption containing derogatory comments.

Prisha gained evidence of the incident and reported the abuse to eSafety.gov.au. eSafety requested the anonymous account’s details from Instagram to help identify the abuser. Once Instagram provided this information, eSafety was able to issue the abuser with a formal removal notice which required them to take down the offending material, or otherwise face further escalation and penalty fines, which they did. eSafety also directed Prisha to more information about adult cyber abuse, and provided her with helpful resources where she learnt how to manage what she sees, and who she engages with on her social media feeds, so she can have more positive experiences online.

Thanks to the Online Safety Laws, Prisha was protected from further online abuse, and felt confident posting online with the new strategies she learned.

*Not actual name.

Online safety laws help remove explicit images or videos shared without your consent. This includes material that you originally shared with someone but they then circulated without your permission.

Example:

***David* was in his 30s and in a relationship with a woman which was going well. They sent each other naked photos of themselves, and David expected these images to remain private.

The relationship then ended badly and David was no longer in contact with his ex. Soon after, David heard from a friend that his ex had posted the explicit images of him on Reddit and had labelled them with his name.

David was horrified, as he had never imagined that the images would be shared. He was now worried that the explicit pictures would spread further.

David collected evidence, then lodged a report with eSafety and sent them screenshots of the page on Reddit where his photos had appeared. The eSafety Investigations Team contacted him and sought more details about his situation.

eSafety was able to get the images taken down from Reddit. They also directed David to more information about image-based abuse, and provided him with helpful resources to help him have more positive experiences online. He was extremely relieved and reassured by the assistance that eSafety provided.

Thanks to the Online Safety Laws, David was protected from explicit images being shared without his consent.

*Not actual name.

Online safety laws help to protect against exposure to the worst types of illegal and harmful content online. Illegal and violent content is considered content that could cause severe harm to the people who find it, including material that shows or encourages the sexual abuse of children, terrorism or other acts of extreme violence.

Example:

***Lauren* was scrolling through social media and saw a video of some hostages being shot. Lauren was horrified, because she never expected to see this kind of video on social media. She was upset by the video and also worried about her children seeing the video by accident.

Lauren lodged a report with eSafety and sent them information on the video including what it showed, the name of the account that posted it, and the time and date it was posted. Lauren was glad that the eSafety investigation team were taking action to get the video removed but she was still feeling a bit upset. She went to the eSafety website and downloaded the fact sheet on what to do if you see distressing content.

The eSafety Commissioner issued a removal request, and the social media platform took the video down. If they had not taken it down voluntarily, the eSafety Commissioner could have then issued a removal notice, which is enforceable and backed by strong penalties. Luckily, that was not necessary and the video was removed in just a short time, preventing many other people from seeing it.

Thanks to the Online Safety Laws, Lauren helped protect other people in Australia from illegal and violent content online. 

*Not actual name.

Reporting severe online abuse

Your safety is important. eSafety is here to help protect and support you if you are experiencing severe online abuse.

Here are some steps you can take:

  • If the issue you are experiencing is adult cyber abuse, you should contact the online platform or service directly first and request the content is taken down.
  • If they do not help you, or the issue relates to image-based abuse or illegal and violent content, report the problem on our reporting page: esafety.gov.au/report.
  • When you make a report, include any information and evidence you can, such as screenshots of the harmful messages or posts. 
  • You can have a trusted support person help you through the reporting process if preferred.
  • Once eSafety has assessed your report and found the content is severely harmful and should be removed, one of the team members will explain to you the next steps. You may also be asked for more information if needed.
  • You can also report illegal and violent content anonymously.
  • eSafety can also help you access further support from a counselling service.

For support in your preferred language throughout the process, call TIS National on 131 450 and ask for an interpreter.

It is free for everyone living in Australia to make a report to eSafety, including people on temporary visas. Making a report will not impact your visa status in any way.

You can also report on behalf of someone else if you have their permission.

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Additional information and support

You can learn more about how the online safety laws protect against severe online harm by downloading the written materials on this page.

You can also call TIS National on 131 450 and ask for an interpreter if preferred. 

Last updated: 29/01/2024