Misinformation bill an 'attack on free speech' Australia can't let happen

Opposition to Australia's proposed censorship legislation grows as critics call out the 'Orwellian' dangers new powers present.

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Opposition leader Peter Dutton has labelled Labor's proposed misinformation bill as a significant and dangerous overreach, describing it as “an attack on free speech” that Australians should rightfully oppose.

The Coalition has accelerated its campaign against the legislation, which was drafted by the Albanese government earlier this year.

The bill aims to grant the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) the power to control how social media giants handle misinformation and disinformation.

If enacted, failure to comply with an industry “standard” for removing harmful content could lead to massive fines, reaching up to 5 per cent of a company's global turnover, or $8 billion in Meta's case.

Dutton expressed grave concern over the bill's potential impact. “What the government is proposing here goes well beyond any reasonable measure,” he declared, adding that Prime Minister Albanese “just doesn't get across the detail” and that the ramifications would be “very significant.”

Shadow communications minister David Coleman has been vocal as well, launching an online petition titled "Bin the bill," where he emphasises that "freedom of speech is fundamental to our democracy." The website associated with the petition highlights various perceived flaws in the proposal, including potential government bias and the likelihood of censorship by digital platforms.

Labor's Communications Minister, Michelle Rowland, refuted claims that the bill threatens free speech, assuring that ACMA will not have power over individual posts. But her statements have been challenged as “ludicrous” by media lawyer Justin Quill, who stated, “this absolutely is about moderating content.”

The mounting opposition to the bill illustrates a growing concern among Australians about potential government overreach in regulating online content. As the debate continues, proponents of free speech are rallying against what they view as an unprecedented intrusion into personal liberties and democratic principles.

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  • By Avi Yemini

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