eSafety Commissioner releases global regulatory statement

online safety

The eSafety Commissioner, along with its fellow Global Online Safety Regulators Network members, have released a new joint position statement on coordinating global regulations to better combat online safety issues.

The Commissioner said this follows the expontential growth of child sexual abuse material, sextortion scams and deepfakes being shared online, and that the statement identified four key areas that the network will work together on.

“As regulators, we face similar challenges: we’re national entities mandated to regulate a complex set of global harms involving companies principally domiciled offshore,” eSafety Commissioner, Julie Inman Grant, said.

“We’re also grappling with how to apply novel, frequently untested regulatory tools to a rapidly evolving sector. Managing these intersecting forces is beyond the capacity of a solo regulator. It requires like-minded, like-principled regulators to come together to share insights, experience, and best practice.

“eSafety co-founded the Global Online Safety Regulators Network 18 months ago to support a global regulatory posture that upholds the full spectrum of human rights, protects people wherever they are – especially children – and fosters technological innovation.

“Our collective ambition is to work in partnership to deliver coherent regulation across borders for the benefit of all, including platforms of all sizes. This latest position statement outlines steps we can take to work towards that ambition.”

The second position statement posted by the Network, Regulatory coherence and coordination: the role of the Global Online Safety Regulators Network, said it would focus on four key areas to foster collaboration and efficient protection from harm:

  1. Regulatory tools, including risk assessment and transparency reporting: Members will share methodologies and evaluation practices and work to develop common metrics.
  2. User complaints functions and related systems: Members will share evidence to help identify and compare trends across regions, including issues of compliance.
  3. Information requests to industry: Members will explore opportunities to coordinate the types of questions asked of industry to help reduce the compliance burden and produce more comparable global data.
  4. Safety measures:  Members will share experiences of good practice to identify a common set of reasonable steps services can take to address specific harms and risk factors.

“Regulation and enforcement will only become more challenging as industry tips towards decentralisation and emerging technologies, such as generative AI, become more popular,” Inman Grant said.

“The Network welcomes new members and observers to foster coherent, human rights-based approaches to online safety regulation. Regulatory coherence doesn’t mean creating identical legal and regulatory frameworks but promoting a degree of alignment in objectives and outcomes.

“This cooperation is already yielding dividends. As well as championing a human rights-based approach to online safety regulation and harm prevention, many Network members are embracing the principles of Safety by Design as part of our shared commitment to creating a safer digital ecosystem.

“Benefits of global collaboration for users include enhanced safety that doesn’t stop at the border. Benefits for industry include compliance economies of scale and greater legal certainty.”

Current members of the network, besides Australia’s eSafety Commissioner, include France’s Arcom, Ireland’s Coimisiún na Meán, Slovakia’s Council for Media Services, South Africa’s Film and Publication Board (Vice-Chair), Republic of Korea’s Korea Communications Standard Commission, the United Kingdom’s Office of Communications (Chair) and Fiji’s Online Safety Commission.

Current observers, including organisations and governments who are committed to working collaboratively with regulators, include: 5Rights, Department of Canadian Heritage – Canada, European Parliament Intergroup on Children’s Rights, Family Online Safety Institute – Global, Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle Multimedia-Diensteanbieter e.V. (FSM) – Germany, INHOPE, Netsafe – New Zealand, Te Mana Whakaatu | Classification Office – New Zealand, The Canadian Centre for Child Protection – Canada, and WeProtect Global Alliance.