Australian government called out for placing itself above proposed 'misinformation' laws

Communications Minister Michelle Rowland defends political parties and government bodies' exemptions amid criticism.

Australian government called out for placing itself above proposed 'misinformation' laws
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Communications Minister Michelle Rowland has reiterated the government's commitment to maintaining exemptions for political parties and government bodies under Labor's proposed misinformation laws.

Despite widespread criticism, Rowland asserted that the carveout was crucial to ensuring the preservation of "official information," such as disaster alerts, which should not be removed by platforms.

In a speech at the National Press Club, Rowland clarified:

"That exemption was proposed to ensure that important emergency and otherwise official information from government that’s important to people wasn’t taken down or removed by platforms."

She acknowledged the misinterpretation surrounding the exemption and claimed the government's determination to refine the drafting for proper accountability of digital platforms.

The government recently announced a delay in legislating the landmark misinformation bill due to significant opposition from legal experts, faith groups, the Coalition, and independent MPs.

The proposed bill grants the Australian Communications and Media Authority the power to fine social media giants for spreading misinformation and harmful content.

While addressing concerns from faith groups, Rowland hinted at a possible carve-out for religious views, stating:

 "We are working through that at the moment, and we’ll have more to say in due course."

However, she rejected calls to remove exemptions for authorised election material and media outlets, emphasizing that these areas are already regulated under different standards and laws.

Despite criticism, Rowland pushed the 'importance of laws combating misinformation,' especially with the growing potential for the rise of AI.

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  • By Avi Yemini

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