Australia's anti-trolling Bill enters Parliament retaining defamation focus

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The federal government has officially introduced the highly-publicised anti-trolling Bill into Parliament.

The Bill, Social Media (Anti-Trolling) Bill 2022, was first announced by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in November as a mechanism that would “unmask anonymous online trolls” and address toxic content existing on social media platforms.  

The anti-trolling Bill has since been touted by the Liberal Senator and Attorney-General Michaelia Cash as one of her party’s primary items that it wants to push out before the federal election. 

Introduced by Communications Minister Paul Fletcher on Thursday morning, the Bill remains largely unchanged from the exposure draft version released in December.

Despite being called an anti-troll Bill, the proposed laws do not contain any sections addressing troll or harmful content. At its core, the Bill is focused on empowering people to raise lawsuits for online defamation rather than explicitly preventing cyberbullying and online abuse.

Last week, Australia’s eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman outlined her concern about this, specifically on how it may be misused due to the lack of these elements addressing troll and harmful content.

“I think [the anti-trolling Bill] can lend itself to a lot of retaliation, a lot of vigilante-style justice,” said Inman Grant.


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