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Inman Grant's reappointment as eSafety commissioner comes with new powers

With the Online Safety Act now in effect, the eSafety commissioner can order social media platforms to more expeditiously take down cyberbullying content.
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Written by Campbell Kwan, Journalist on
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Image: Getty Images

The federal government has reappointed Julie Inman Grant as the country's eSafety commissioner. 

The reappointment comes simultaneously with the Online Safety Act, which passed last year, officially coming into effect.

"The Online Safety Act commences operation [on Sunday] and Ms Inman Grant's reappointment provides certainty, particularly to community organisations and industry who have been working with the office of the eSafety Commissioner for some time," said Paul Fletcher, the Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts.

Inman Grant was first put into the role in 2016, months after the Office of the eSafety Commissioner was established under the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). 

During her tenure, the eSafety commissioner has steadily expanded from initially only protecting children to a remit of providing supporting mechanisms for all Australians online. With the Online Safety Act now in effect, Inman Grant has even more substantial powers, such as being able to order social media platforms and other websites popular among children to remove cyberbullying content within 24 hours.

If these entities fail to remove the content, the commissioner can issue fines of up to 500 penalty units, which equates to a maximum of AU$111,000 for individuals and AU$555,000 for companies.

While Inman Grant could already order the removal of cyberbullying content aimed at children, the key change to the commissioner's powers is that she can also issue orders for cyberbullying content targeted at adults too. In addition, the time allowed for online service providers to take down this type of content has also been cut in half, from 48 hours to 24 hours.

Beyond being able to order the removal of cyberbullying content, the eSafety commissioner can also order the takedown of intimate images of someone that was shared without their consent, abhorrent violent material, as well as restricted online content.

Online safety has been high on the federal government's agenda as late, with initiatives such as the Online Safety Youth Advisory Council, the proposal of anti-trolling and online privacy laws, and a federal probe into practices of major technology companies all coming in the past few months.

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