Australia, UK forge deal to combat online safety issues

Australia and the United Kingdom have signed a one-of-a-kind Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to support safe and secure online experiences.

Managed by the UK Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) and the Australian Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts (DITRDCA), alongside other relevant departments and agencies, the MoU will cover a broad variety of digital safety issues including illegal content, child safety, age assurance, gender-based violence and harm caused by technology such as generative artificial intelligence (AI).

The MoU builds on the existing regulatory efforts in place in both countries, the UK’s Online Safety Act 2023 and Australia’s Online Safety Act 2021.

“Both Australia and the United Kingdom are resolute in our commitment to keeping our citizens safe online. We are likeminded allies and key partners in the fight for safer and more positive online experiences,” Australian Minister for Communications, the Hon Michelle Rowland MP, said.

“This historic Memorandum of Understanding will bring our two countries closer together, ensuring greater collaboration and engagement as we deal with online harms. Working together, we will protect the privacy, safety and security of our citizens, without stifling the innovation that is vital for economic, social and individual progress.

“Online safety is a shared, global responsibility. We must be proactive in ensuring that our legislative frameworks remain fit-for-purpose, and continue to evolve as new harms emerge.”

The MoU is designed to be the first step towards setting a global agenda on combatting online harm.

“The UK and Australia are at the forefront of online safety, and I am proud of our internationally pioneering approaches which are already helping to create a safer and more secure digital world, protecting our citizens and holding platforms to account,” United Kingdom Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, the Rt Hon Michelle Donelan MP, said.

“The signing of the joint Memorandum today signifies a new chapter in our shared history. I look forward to building on this partnership which will help address the challenges and harness the opportunities of the digital age.”