The Office of the eSafety Commissioner was established in 2015 to promote online safety. Initially established to protect and promote online safety for children only, the eSafety Commissioner's scope and powers have expanded under the Enhancing Online Safety Act 2015 (Cth) to cover adults as well as children, and include:
More information can be located on the Office of the eSafety Commissioner's website.
For tips about cyber safety on social networking sites, search engines and on-line games see the Stay Smart Online website. The website contains information about protections against cyber bullying, how to report cyber bullying to in relation to popular internet sites as well as many other useful features, such as explaining information about privacy settings and who has access to social networking sites.
Powers to remove image-based abuse material
The eSafety Commissioner is empowered under the Enhancing Online Safety Act 2015 (Cth) to require the removal of certain image-based abuse material that is shared without consent, and in some instances to take action against the person(s) who shared the image or video without the consent of the person who is the subject of the image or video.
Any person depicted in an intimate image or video which has been shared without their consent can make a complaint to the eSafety Commissioner, as can certain authorised persons, such as a parent/guardian on behalf of a child who is under 16, or a parent/guardian of a person who has a mental or physical incapacity that renders them incapable of managing their own affairs [see s 19A].
Where consent has been given to share the intimate image or video, an objection notice may still be lodged with the eSafety Commissioner. This is different to a complaint [see s 19B]. An objection notice could be lodged, for example, where a person depicted in an intimate image or video initially consented to its sharing, but then changed their mind.
After a person lodges a complaint or objection notice, the eSafety Commissioner can issue a removal notice to the site where the intimate image or video has been published, to the hosting service provider, or to the individual who posted the image or video, requiring the image or video to be removed within 48 hours or within a reasonable time frame [s 44D(1)(g); s 44E(1)(g); s 44F(1)(h)]. Failure to comply with a removal notice may result in a civil penalty, enforceable undertaking or court injunction being sought, see Civil Penalties below.
The eSafety Commissioner can seek civil penalties in a number of circumstances, which can be enforced in the Federal Court or Federal Circuit Court of Australia. The penalties can be significant. The circumstances where a civil penalty can be sought, and the maximum amount that can be sought, are as follows:
In circumstances where a person has breached section 44B, section 44G or section 44K, they may be given a formal warning prior to a civil penalty being sought [see ss 44C, 44H and 44I]. An infringement notice may also be issued for any breaches of those sections [s 46A(1)]. In addition to seeking civil penalties, the eSafety Commissioner is also able to seek an enforceable undertaking or injunction from the Federal Court or Federal Circuit Court of Australia [ss 47 and 48].
The sharing of intimate images may also be a criminal offence under either State of Commonwealth law. For information on criminal offences relating to image-based abuse, see Distribution of Invasive Images ('Revenge Porn').