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Regulators collaborate through new global network to counter online harm

Published: 14 November 2022
Last updated: 16 March 2023

Regulators from Australia, Fiji, Ireland and the United Kingdom are joining forces to encourage and coordinate global efforts to make the online world a safer place.

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The new Global Online Safety Regulators Network will be formally launched at the Family Online Safety Institute Conference in Washington DC today.

The Network is a collaboration between the first movers in online safety regulation – Australia’s eSafety Commissioner, Fiji’s Online Safety Commission and Ofcom in the UK – with support from the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.

The Network is intended to pave the way for a coherent international approach to online safety regulation, by enabling new online safety regulators to share information, experience and best practices. Members will share a commitment to act independently of commercial and political influence, as well as to human rights, democracy and the rule of law

The Network is being set up at a time of rapid evolution in the global digital landscape and a greater focus on online safety issues from governments, industry and citizens alike. This includes recent legislative reforms like Australia’s Online Safety Act 2021, Fiji’s Online Safety Act 2018, the UK’s Online Safety Bill, Ireland’s Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill 2022 and the European Union’s Digital Services Act, as well as online safety reform work underway in Canada, New Zealand and Singapore.

Senior representatives from the four founders of the Network said that with a number of global online safety regulators now being established around the world, the time is right to link up, learn from each other, and look at new ways of working together to counter a range of online harms.

Quotes attributable to Network founders

Julie Inman Grant, Australia’s eSafety Commissioner:

“I’ve always believed the future of effective online safety regulation would involve a network of global regulators working together to make the online world a safer place for everyone. Today’s announcement is the first step in making that future a reality.

“In 2015, we were the world’s only online safety regulator. Today, I’m happy to report that this is no longer the case and online safety regulators are starting to pop up all over the globe, backed by new laws ensuring providers of digital services are held to account.

“Our new Network will also help to avoid the risk of a “global splinternet” of inconsistent regulation by setting out a clearer and more consistent international framework for industry to follow.”

Dame Melanie Dawes, Chief Executive, Ofcom, UK:

“Global companies don’t consider borders as barriers to their business models, and neither should we when it comes to regulating them. If we’re going to help everyone from Melbourne to Manchester enjoy a safer life online, countries need to collaborate and share their experience and expertise. That’s why we’ve launched this Network.

“Ofcom has already shown that regulation can make a difference, after just one year of oversight of UK video sites like TikTok, Snapchat and Twitch. We’re looking forward to extending these powers so we can protect more people from serious harm while continuing to champion the great things about being online. Strong global cooperation and consistency will be key to that.”

Mary Motofaga, A/g Commissioner, Online Safety Commission, Fiji:

“For a Pacific country as geographically remote and culturally rich as Fiji, the Global Online Safety Regulators Network offers a great opportunity for members to share information, discuss and address challenges such as cross-border complaints and acknowledging cultural diversity.

“Collaboration with our international stakeholders is crucial to achieving success because the online space does not have any boundaries, and we are stronger together than apart.

“The Fijian Online Safety Commission looks forward to the launch of the Global Online Safety Regulators Network as we work together to promote an inclusive and safe online culture for all.”

Celene Craig, Chief Executive Officer, Broadcasting Authority of Ireland:
“The BAI has consistently pursued co-operation and partnership as tools in effective and practical regulation. The development of the Global Online Safety Regulators Network is the embodiment of this approach and the Network is committed to bringing together like-minded independent regulators who are working together to foster best practice, share experiences and expertise and co-ordinate regulatory approaches in the pursuit of a safe and equitable online environment.

“While the BAI is not a regulator in online safety, it has contributed to this Network through the online safety work it has undertaken regarding the transposition of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive and the development of Ireland’s online safety and media regulation regime. This work allows the BAI to have observer status in the Network.

“Online safety regulation in Ireland will soon come under the remit of a new body, Coimisiún na Meán (the Media Commission) once the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill is enacted into law. We hope that the preparatory work the BAI has undertaken in the development of this Network and the valuable interactions with regulators operating in the online safety space will assist our specialist online safety colleagues when the work of Coimisiún na Meán commences next year.”

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