European Union representatives look to Australian model for online safety

By Melissa Coade

February 23, 2022

eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant
eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)


Australian eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant has met with European Parliament members for high-level talks about the national online safety regulation and child online protection framework.

The visit and five-days of talks with the commissioner and federal government, which started on Monday, are being held ahead of the European Commission releasing new legislation to combat child sexual abuse and exploitation.

Delegation representatives include co-chairs of the European Parliament intergroup on children’s rights, Swedish Member of the European Parliament (MEP) David Lega, and Italian MEP and magistrate Caterina Chinnici, as well intergroup secretary-general Emilio Puccio.

In a statement, Inamn Grant said the conversations would also help shape a proposed Digital Services Act, an EU law that would inform online regulation within the region and globally. 

“We have successfully created an extremely hostile environment for the hosting of illegal content like child sexual exploitation material, to the point that none of these sites are able to operate here,” Inman Grant said.

“It’s encouraging that the EU is looking at our experience, because if Europe were to follow a similar path to Australia it would help to close the net around those seeking to trade and profit from this terrible content.”

During their visit, the EU delegation will participate in a roundtable discussion with Inman Grant, Children’s Commissioner Anne Hollonds and Australian Information and Privacy Commissioner Angelene Falk to examine the Australian ‘Safety by Design’ program.

They will also meet with representatives from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Department of Home Affairs, the National Office of Child Safety, the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation and the Australian Federal Police.

Australia has been leading other jurisdictions in online safety regulation for the past six years, the eSafety commissioner said, adding that the ‘successful and replicable’ model was not being closely considered by other international legislators.

 “Ultimately, we want to get to a place where we are stopping online harms from happening in the first place. 

“This is the goal of our Safety by Design program and it’s encouraging to see the European Parliament taking an interest in this game-changing initiative,” Inman Grant said.

According to communications minister Paul Fletcher, regulating online safety requires cooperation across national borders.

“Australia is a pioneer where the safety of citizens, especially children, online is concerned. 

“We are happy to share our experiences with other nations, and keen to learn from their perspectives,” the minister said. 


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