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  • Writer's pictureFlow Australia

Policing platforms 'correct approach' on misinformation

A tech giant agrees with the government's plan for the watchdog to monitor compliance with a code of conduct to tackle misinformation and disinformation online.

Google is backing the government's call to give the media watchdog more powers to tackle online misinformation.

Representatives of tech giants have on Tuesday fronted a Senate inquiry into the influence of international digital platforms, where talk turned to the government's push to curb harmful online content.

Draft legislation has been released that would hand the Australian Communications and Media Authority powers to enact an enforceable industry code of conduct to ensure platforms tackle misinformation and disinformation.

ACMA would not be able to take down any inappropriate content, but could grill a platform on their internal practices before penalising them if they don't follow the code.

Liberal senator Andrew Bragg presented Google's representative with quotes from the Digital Information Group, in which they suggested platforms would end up pulling down stacks of content that run contrary to government positions.

Lucinda Longcroft, a government relations representative for Google, said ACMA's approach was the correct one.

"We are proud to be members of DIGI, they do an excellent job in representing the broad industry's perspective," she told the inquiry.

"While we certainly support DIGI submission, we are as a company of the view ACMA can be enhanced by the powers foreseen in the misinformation bill, enforcing the misinformation and disinformation code we are proud to have been one of the first signatories of."

Ms Longcroft was quizzed about constitutional expert Anne Twomey's position on the bill - that the laws would be "virtually impossible to properly implement" and platforms would go over the top in wiping content, risking freedom of speech issues.

"I certainly have great respect for Professor Twomey ... the area of misinformation is a very challenging one, it's one we take extremely seriously within Google, but we are not waiting for draft legislation to act on this," she said.

"Under the misinformation and disinformation code already, YouTube has ... removed 300,000 videos (in Australia) for misinformation."

The inquiry had earlier heard the Apple Pay service was not subject to any regulation in Australia, with company representatives claiming it was simply a "digital reproduction of your credit card".

A seemingly astonished Senator Bragg said "it sounds like a payment service to me", but Apple's Kyle Andeer said it was "probably the most private way to pay".

"We at Apple do not know what you're buying, we do not know where you're buying it, we are simply a conduit for that bank and that customer to purchase goods," he told the inquiry.

"If you're a customer and you're worried about third parties or even Apple accessing your transaction history, that is not going to happen."


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