The Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison, introduces new defamation laws that will force online platforms to reveal the identity of trolls, otherwise they will pay the price of defamation. As explained by ABC News Australia, laws would make social platforms, such as Facebook or Twitter, for defamatory comments against users.
The platforms should also create a complaint system, which people can use if they feel they are being defamed. As part of this process, the person who posted the potentially defamatory content will be asked to remove it. However, if he refuses or if the victim is interested in taking legal action, the platform he can then legally request permission to disclose his contact details.
And if the platform can not obtain consent, the laws will introduce a "end-user information disclosure command", Allowing technology giants to reveal the identity of an unlicensed user. If the platforms cannot recognize the troll for any reason or if the platforms flatly refuse the company will pay for the troll's defamatory comments. Since the law is specific to Australia, it seems that social networks will not need to detect trolls located in other countries.
«The internet world should not be a wild west where bots, bigots and trolls roam anonymously and can harm other people"Morrison said during a press conference. «This can not happen in the real world and there is no way it can happen in the digital world.»
According to ABC News Australia, a draft of the "anti-troll" legislation is expected this week and will probably not reach Parliament until early next year. It remains unclear what specific details the platforms will be called upon to collect and disclose. It is not yet known how serious the defamation case must be to justify revealing one's identity. A loose definition of defamation could pose a serious threat to privacy.
The proposed legislation is part of a broader effort to revise Australia's defamation laws. In September, the Australian Supreme Court ruled that news sites were considered "publishers" of defamatory comments made by the public on their social media pages and should be held accountable. This has caused agencies such as CNN to prevent Australians from accessing their Facebook page altogether.
However, the decision may have repercussions for people who manage social networking pages, as the decision implies that they can also be held responsible for any defamatory comments left on their pages.