New cross-border roadmap to regulate online harms

New cross-border roadmap to regulate online harms

As child sexual abuse material, sextortion scams and deepfakes multiply at lightning speed, eSafety and its global partners are building greater cross-border coordination to enhance online protections.

eSafety and fellow Global Online Safety Regulators Network members have published a joint position statement on regulatory coherence and coordination to more effectively tackle online safety issues.

"As regulators, we face similar challenges: we’re national entities mandated to regulate a complex set of global harms involving companies principally domiciled offshore,” eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant said.

"We’re also grappling with how to apply novel, frequently untested regulatory tools to a rapidly evolving sector.”

Inman Grant said managing these intersecting forces is beyond the capacity of a solo regulator.

“It requires like-minded, like-principled regulators to come together to share insights, experience, and best practice,” she said.

“eSafety co-founded the Global Online Safety Regulators Network 18 months ago to support a global regulatory posture that upholds the full spectrum of human rights, protects people wherever they are – especially children - and fosters technological innovation.”

Inman Grant said the Network’s collective ambition is to work in partnership to deliver coherent regulation across borders for the benefit of all, including platforms of all sizes.

“This latest position statement outlines steps we can take to work towards that ambition.”

The Network’s second position statement, Regulatory coherence and coordination, has identified four key areas to collaborate on:

  • Regulatory tools, including risk assessment and transparency reporting: Members will share methodologies and evaluation practices and work to develop common metrics.
  • User complaints functions and related systems: Members will share evidence to help identify and compare trends across regions, including issues of compliance.
  • Information requests to industry: Members will explore opportunities to coordinate the types of questions asked of industry to help reduce the compliance burden and produce more comparable global data.
  • Safety measures:  Members will share experiences of good practice to identify a common set of reasonable steps services can take to address specific harms and risk factors.

“Regulation and enforcement will only become more challenging as industry tips towards decentralisation and emerging technologies, such as generative AI, become more popular,” Ms Inman Grant said. 

“The Network welcomes new members and observersito foster coherent, human rights-based approaches to online safety regulation. Regulatory coherence doesn’t mean creating identical legal and regulatory frameworks but promoting a degree of alignment in objectives and outcomes.”

Inman Grant said this cooperation is already yielding dividends.

“As well as championing a human rights-based approach to online safety regulation and harm prevention, many Network members are embracing the principles of Safety by Design as part of our shared commitment to creating a safer digital ecosystem,” she said.

“Benefits of global collaboration for users include enhanced safety that doesn’t stop at the border. Benefits for industry include compliance economies of scale and greater legal certainty.”

This story originally appeared as a media release from Australia’s eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant.