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A Bill for an Act about social media services, and for related purposes
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Registered 25 Oct 2021
Introduced HR 25 Oct 2021

2019‑2020‑2021

 

The Parliament of the

Commonwealth of Australia

 

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 

 

 

 

Presented and read a first time

 

 

 

 

Social Media (Basic Expectations and Defamation) Bill 2021

 

No.      , 2021

 

(Dr Webster)

 

 

 

A Bill for an Act about social media services, and for related purposes

  

  

  


Contents

Part 1—Preliminary                                                                                                             1

1............ Short title............................................................................................. 1

2............ Commencement................................................................................... 2

3............ Definitions.......................................................................................... 2

4............ Application of this Act........................................................................ 4

Part 2—Complaints and investigations about defamatory posts              5

5............ Complaints.......................................................................................... 5

6............ Investigation of complaints................................................................. 6

7............ Commissioner’s response to complaints............................................. 6

Part 3—Basic expectations                                                                                               7

Division 1—Basic expectations                                                                                7

8............ Basic expectations............................................................................... 7

9............ Matters to which Minister must have regard....................................... 7

10.......... Consultation........................................................................................ 7

11.......... Service provider notifications.............................................................. 8

Division 2—Reporting                                                                                                10

Subdivision A—Periodic reporting about compliance with basic expectations             10

12.......... Periodic reporting notice................................................................... 10

13.......... Compliance with notice..................................................................... 11

14.......... Formal warning................................................................................. 11

15.......... Periodic reporting determination....................................................... 12

16.......... Compliance with determination......................................................... 13

17.......... Formal warning................................................................................. 13

18.......... Service provider notifications............................................................ 13

Subdivision B—Non periodic reporting about compliance with basic expectations     14

19.......... Non periodic reporting notice............................................................ 14

20.......... Compliance with notice..................................................................... 15

21.......... Formal warning................................................................................. 15

22.......... Non periodic reporting determination................................................ 16

23.......... Compliance with determination......................................................... 17

24.......... Formal warning................................................................................. 17

25.......... Service provider notifications............................................................ 17

Subdivision C—Self incrimination                                                                      18

26.......... Self incrimination.............................................................................. 18

Part 4—Defamatory material                                                                                       19

27.......... Defamation notice given to provider of a social media service.......... 19

28.......... Consequence of defamation notices—providers liable for defamation 20

Part 5—Enforcement                                                                                                         21

29.......... Civil penalty provisions.................................................................... 21

30.......... Infringement notices.......................................................................... 21

31.......... Enforceable undertakings.................................................................. 22

32.......... Injunctions........................................................................................ 23

Part 6—Information‑gathering powers                                                                  25

33.......... Commissioner may obtain end‑user identity information or contact details              25

34.......... Compliance with notice..................................................................... 25

35.......... Self incrimination.............................................................................. 26

Part 7—Investigative powers                                                                                        27

36.......... Application of this Part..................................................................... 27

37.......... Notice requiring appearance for examination.................................... 27

38.......... Examination on oath or affirmation................................................... 27

39.......... Examination to take place in private.................................................. 28

40.......... Record to be made of examination.................................................... 28

41.......... Production of documents for inspection............................................ 28

42.......... Protection of persons giving evidence............................................... 28

43.......... Non compliance with requirement to give evidence.......................... 29

Part 8—Miscellaneous                                                                                                       31

44.......... Review of decisions.......................................................................... 31

45.......... Protection from civil proceedings...................................................... 31

46.......... Liability for damages......................................................................... 32

47.......... Copies of material............................................................................. 32

48.......... Implied freedom of political communication..................................... 32

49.......... Concurrent operation of State and Territory laws.............................. 32

50.......... This Act not to affect performance of State or Territory functions.... 33

51.......... Legislative rules................................................................................ 33

 


A Bill for an Act about social media services, and for related purposes

The Parliament of Australia enacts:

Part 1Preliminary

  

1  Short title

                   This Act is the Social Media (Basic Expectations and Defamation) Act 2021.

2  Commencement

             (1)  Each provision of this Act specified in column 1 of the table commences, or is taken to have commenced, in accordance with column 2 of the table. Any other statement in column 2 has effect according to its terms.

 

Commencement information

Column 1

Column 2

Column 3

Provisions

Commencement

Date/Details

1.  The whole of this Act

A single day to be fixed by Proclamation.

However:

(a) subject to paragraph (b), if the provisions do not commence within the period of 6 months beginning on the day this Act receives the Royal Assent, they commence on the day after the end of that period; and

(b) if the provisions would otherwise commence before the Online Safety Act 2021 commences, the provisions commence at the same time as that Act.

 

Note:          This table relates only to the provisions of this Act as originally enacted. It will not be amended to deal with any later amendments of this Act.

             (2)  Any information in column 3 of the table is not part of this Act. Information may be inserted in this column, or information in it may be edited, in any published version of this Act.

3  Definitions

                   In this Act:

ACMA means the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

Australia, when used in a geographical sense, includes all the external Territories.

Australian means an individual who is ordinarily resident in Australia.

basic expectations has the meaning given by section 8.

civil penalty provision has the same meaning as in the Regulatory Powers Act.

Commissioner means the eSafety Commissioner.

defamation notice means a notice given under section 27.

engage in conduct means:

                     (a)  do an act; or

                     (b)  omit to perform an act.

legislative rules means rules made under section 51.

material has the same meaning as in the Online Safety Act 2021.

philosophical includes political.

posted by an end‑user of a social media service has the same meaning as in the Online Safety Act 2021.

provider of a social media service has the same meaning as in the Online Safety Act 2021.

Regulatory Powers Act means the Regulatory Powers (Standard Provisions) Act 2014.

removed from a social media service has the same meaning as in the Online Safety Act 2021.

Secretary means the Secretary of the Department.

social media service has the same meaning as in the Online Safety Act 2021.

Note:          A service is not a social media service if none of the material on the service is accessible to, or delivered to, one or more end‑users in Australia: see paragraph 13(4)(a) of the Online Safety Act 2021.

terms of use has the same meaning as in the Online Safety Act 2021.

4  Application of this Act

             (1)  This Act extends to every external Territory.

             (2)  This Act extends to acts, omissions, matters and things outside Australia.

Part 2Complaints and investigations about defamatory posts

  

5  Complaints

             (1)  If an Australian has reason to believe that he or she is being defamed by material posted on a particular social media service, he or she may make a complaint to the Commissioner about the matter.

             (2)  If the person wants the Commissioner to give the provider of the service a defamation notice under section 30, the complaint under this section must be accompanied by evidence that the material was the subject of a complaint that was previously made to the provider of the service.

             (3)  For the purposes of subsection (2), evidence must be in a form required by the Commissioner.

             (4)  If a social media service issues a receipt or complaint number to a complainant as part of its ordinary business processes, the Commissioner may require evidence to be in the form of the receipt or complaint number.

             (5)  If a social media service does not issue a receipt or complaint number to a complainant as part of its ordinary business processes, the Commissioner may require evidence to be:

                     (a)  in the form of a screen shot; or

                     (b)  in the form of a statutory declaration; or

                     (c)  in such other form as the Commissioner specifies.

             (6)  Subsections (4) and (5) do not limit subsection (3).

             (7)  A requirement under subsection (3), (4) or (5) is not a legislative instrument.

6  Investigation of complaints

             (1)  The Commissioner may investigate a complaint made under section 5.

             (2)  An investigation under this section is to be conducted as the Commissioner thinks fit.

             (3)  The Commissioner may, for the purposes of an investigation, obtain information from such persons, and make such inquiries, as the Commissioner thinks fit.

             (4)  Subsections (1), (2) and (3) have effect subject to Part 8 (which confers certain investigative powers on the Commissioner).

Termination of investigation

             (5)  The Commissioner may terminate an investigation under this section.

7  Commissioner’s response to complaints

                   If a complaint is made to the Commissioner under section 5 in relation to material, the Commissioner may consider whether to give a defamation notice in relation to the material.

Part 3Basic expectations

Division 1Basic expectations

8  Basic expectations

             (1)  The Minister may, by legislative instrument, determine that the basic expectations for a social media service are the expectations specified in the determination.

             (2)  A determination under this section does not impose a duty that is enforceable by proceedings in a court.

9  Matters to which Minister must have regard

             (1)  In making a determination under section 11, the Minister must have regard to the following:

                     (a)  the importance of social media services:

                              (i)  as a source of information for Australians; and

                             (ii)  for the sharing of ideas and opinions within the Australian community;

                     (b)  the value of truth and free debate;

                     (c)  the harmfulness of defamation;

                     (d)  the importance of preventing social media services from being used to facilitate unlawful conduct;

                     (e)  any other matters specified in the legislative rules for the purposes of this paragraph.

             (2)  Subsection (1) does not limit the matters to which the Minister may have regard.

10  Consultation

             (1)  Before making or varying a determination under section 11, the Minister must:

                     (a)  make a copy of the draft available on the Department’s website; and

                     (b)  publish a notice on the Department’s website:

                              (i)  stating that the Minister has prepared a draft of the determination or variation; and

                             (ii)  inviting interested persons to give written comments about the draft to the Minister within the period specified in the notice.

             (2)  The period specified in the notice must run for at least 30 days after the publication of the notice.

             (3)  Subsection (1) does not apply to a variation if the variation is of a minor nature.

             (4)  If interested persons have given comments in accordance with a notice under subsection (1), the Minister must have due regard to those comments in making or varying the determination.

11  Service provider notifications

Scope

             (1)  This section applies to a social media service if there are basic expectations for the service.

Statement

             (2)  If the Commissioner is satisfied that the provider of a service has contravened one or more basic expectations for the service, the Commissioner may:

                     (a)  prepare a statement to that effect; and

                     (b)  give a copy of the statement to the provider of the service; and

                     (c)  if the Commissioner considers that it is appropriate to publish the statement—publish the statement on the Commissioner’s website.

             (3)  If the Commissioner is satisfied that the provider of a service has complied with the basic expectations for the service at all times during a particular period, the Commissioner may:

                     (a)  prepare a statement to that effect; and

                     (b)  give a copy of the statement to the provider of the service; and

                     (c)  if the Commissioner considers that it is appropriate to publish the statement—publish the statement on the Commissioner’s website.

Division 2Reporting

Subdivision APeriodic reporting about compliance with basic expectations

12  Periodic reporting notice

Scope

             (1)  This section applies to a social media service if there are basic expectations for the service.

Notice

             (2)  The Commissioner may, by written notice given to the provider of the service, require the provider to:

                     (a)  do whichever of the following is specified in the notice:

                              (i)  prepare periodic reports about the extent to which the provider complied with the applicable basic expectations during such regular intervals as are specified in the notice;

                             (ii)  prepare periodic reports about the extent to which the provider complied with one or more specified applicable basic expectations during such regular intervals as are specified in the notice; and

                     (b)  prepare those periodic reports in the manner and form specified in the notice; and

                     (c)  give each of those periodic reports to the Commissioner:

                              (i)  within the period ascertained in accordance with the notice in relation to the periodic report concerned; or

                             (ii)  if the Commissioner allows a longer period in relation to the periodic report concerned—within that longer period.

             (3)  An interval specified under subparagraph (2)(a)(i) or (ii):

                     (a)  must not be shorter than 6 months; and

                     (b)  must not be longer than 24 months.

             (4)  A period ascertained in accordance with the notice as mentioned in subparagraph (2)(c)(i) must not be shorter than 28 days after the end of the interval to which the periodic report relates.

             (5)  In deciding whether to give a notice under subsection (2) to the provider of a service, the Commissioner must have regard to the following:

                     (a)  the number of occasions during the previous 12 months on which complaints about material posted on the service were made to the Commissioner under this Act;

                     (b)  whether the provider has previously contravened a civil penalty provision of this Division;

                     (c)  whether there are deficiencies in the provider’s practices, so far as those practices relate to the capacity of end‑users to use the service in a manner that is consistent with the objects of this Act;

                     (d)  whether there are deficiencies in the service’s terms of use, so far as they relate to the capacity of end‑users to use the service in a manner that is consistent with the objects of this Act;

                     (e)  whether the provider has agreed to give the Secretary regular reports relating to the capacity of end‑users to use the service in a manner that is consistent with the objects of this Act;

                      (f)  such other matters (if any) as the Commissioner considers relevant.

13  Compliance with notice

                   A person must comply with a notice under subsection 12(2) to the extent that the person is capable of doing so.

Civil penalty:          500 penalty units.

14  Formal warning

                   The Commissioner may issue a formal warning if a person contravenes section 13.

15  Periodic reporting determination

Scope

             (1)  This section applies to a social media service if there are basic expectations for the service.

Determination

             (2)  The Commissioner may, by legislative instrument, determine that each provider of a service included in a specified class of services is required to:

                     (a)  do whichever of the following is specified in the determination:

                              (i)  prepare periodic reports about the extent to which the provider complied with the applicable basic expectations during such regular intervals as are specified in the determination;

                             (ii)  prepare periodic reports about the extent to which the provider complied with one or more specified applicable basic expectations during such regular intervals as are specified in the determination; and

                     (b)  prepare those periodic reports in the manner and form specified in the determination; and

                     (c)  give each of those periodic reports to the Commissioner:

                              (i)  within the period ascertained in accordance with the determination in relation to the periodic report concerned; or

                             (ii)  if the Commissioner allows a longer period in relation to the periodic report concerned—within that longer period.

             (3)  An interval specified under subparagraph (2)(a)(i) or (ii):

                     (a)  must not be shorter than 6 months; and

                     (b)  must not be longer than 24 months.

             (4)  A period ascertained in accordance with the determination as mentioned in subparagraph (2)(c)(i) must not be shorter than 28 days after the end of the interval to which the periodic report relates.

16  Compliance with determination

                   A person must comply with a determination under subsection 15(2) to the extent that the person is capable of doing so.

Civil penalty:          500 penalty units.

17  Formal warning

                   The Commissioner may issue a formal warning if a person contravenes section 16.

18  Service provider notifications

             (1)  If:

                     (a)  the Commissioner gave a notice under subsection 12(2) to the provider of a social media service; and

                     (b)  the provider did not comply with the notice;

the Commissioner may:

                     (c)  prepare a statement to that effect; and

                     (d)  publish the statement on the Commissioner’s website; and

                     (e)  give a copy of the statement to the provider of the service.

             (2)  If:

                     (a)  a determination under subsection 15(2) applies to the provider of a social media service; and

                     (b)  the provider did not comply with the determination;

the Commissioner may:

                     (c)  prepare a statement to that effect; and

                     (d)  publish the statement on the Commissioner’s website; and

                     (e)  give a copy of the statement to the provider of the service.

Subdivision BNon periodic reporting about compliance with basic expectations

19  Non periodic reporting notice

Scope

             (1)  This section applies to a social media service if there are basic expectations for the service.

Notice

             (2)  The Commissioner may, by written notice given to the provider of the service, require the provider to:

                     (a)  do whichever of the following is specified in the notice:

                              (i)  prepare a report about the extent to which the provider complied with the applicable basic expectations during the period specified in the notice;

                             (ii)  prepare a report about the extent to which the provider complied with one or more specified applicable basic expectations during the period specified in the notice; and

                     (b)  prepare the report in the manner and form specified in the notice; and

                     (c)  give the report to the Commissioner:

                              (i)  within the period specified in the notice; or

                             (ii)  if the Commissioner allows a longer period—within that longer period.

             (3)  The period specified under subparagraph (2)(a)(i) or (ii):

                     (a)  must not be shorter than 6 months; and

                     (b)  must not be longer than 24 months.

             (4)  The period specified in subparagraph (2)(c)(i) must not be shorter than 28 days after the notice is given.

             (5)  In deciding whether to give a notice under subsection (2) to the provider of a service, the Commissioner must have regard to the following:

                     (a)  the number of occasions during the previous 12 months on which complaints about material posted on the service were made to the Commissioner under this Act;

                     (b)  whether the provider has previously contravened a civil penalty provision of this Division;

                     (c)  whether there are deficiencies in the provider’s practices, so far as those practices relate to the capacity of end‑users to use the service in a manner consistent with the objects of this Act;

                     (d)  whether there are deficiencies in service’s terms of use, so far as they relate to the capacity of end‑users to use the service in a manner consistent with the objects of this Act;

                     (e)  whether the provider has agreed to give the Secretary regular reports relating to the capacity of end‑users to use the service in a manner consistent with the objects of this Act;

                      (f)  such other matters (if any) as the Commissioner considers relevant.

20  Compliance with notice

                   A person must comply with a notice under subsection 19(2) to the extent that the person is capable of doing so.

Civil penalty:          500 penalty units.

21  Formal warning

                   The Commissioner may issue a formal warning if a person contravenes section 20.

22  Non periodic reporting determination

Scope

             (1)  This section applies to a social media service if there are basic expectations for the service.

Determination

             (2)  The Commissioner may, by legislative instrument, determine that each provider of a service included in a specified class of services is required to:

                     (a)  do whichever of the following is specified in the determination:

                              (i)  prepare a report about the extent to which the provider complied with the applicable basic expectations during the period specified in the determination;

                             (ii)  prepare a report about the extent to which the provider complied with one or more specified applicable basic expectations during the period specified in the determination; and

                     (b)  prepare the report in the manner and form specified in the determination; and

                     (c)  give the report to the Commissioner:

                              (i)  within the period specified in the determination; or

                             (ii)  if the Commissioner allows a longer period—within that longer period.

             (3)  The period specified under subparagraph (2)(a)(i) or (ii):

                     (a)  must not be shorter than 6 months; and

                     (b)  must not be longer than 24 months.

             (4)  The period specified in subparagraph (2)(c)(i) must not be shorter than 28 days after the determination is made.

23  Compliance with determination

                   A person must comply with a determination under subsection 22(2) to the extent that the person is capable of doing so.

Civil penalty:          500 penalty units.

24  Formal warning

                   The Commissioner may issue a formal warning if a person contravenes section 23.

25  Service provider notifications

             (1)  If:

                     (a)  the Commissioner gave a notice under subsection 19(2) to the provider of a social media service; and

                     (b)  the provider did not comply with the notice;

the Commissioner may:

                     (c)  prepare a statement to that effect; and

                     (d)  publish the statement on the Commissioner’s website; and

                     (e)  give a copy of the statement to the provider of the service.

             (2)  If:

                     (a)  a determination under subsection 22(2) applies to the provider of a social media service; and

                     (b)  the provider did not comply with the determination;

the Commissioner may:

                     (c)  prepare a statement to that effect; and

                     (d)  publish the statement on the Commissioner’s website; and

                     (e)  give a copy of the statement to the provider of the service.

Subdivision CSelf incrimination

26  Self incrimination

             (1)  A person is not excused from giving a report under this Division on the ground that the report might tend to incriminate the person.

             (2)  However, in the case of an individual:

                     (a)  the report; or

                     (b)  giving the report; or

                     (c)  any information, document or thing obtained as a direct or indirect consequence of giving the report;

is not admissible in evidence against the individual:

                     (d)  in civil proceedings for the recovery of a penalty (other than proceedings for the recovery of a penalty under this Division); or

                     (e)  in criminal proceedings (other than proceedings for an offence against section 137.1 or 137.2 of the Criminal Code that relates to this Division).

             (3)  If, at general law, an individual would otherwise be able to claim the privilege against self exposure to a penalty (other than a penalty for an offence) in relation to giving a report under this Division, the individual is not excused from giving the report under this Division on that ground.

Note:          A body corporate is not entitled to claim the privilege against self exposure to a penalty.

Part 4Defamatory material

  

27  Defamation notice given to provider of a social media service

             (1)  If:

                     (a)  material is, or has been, posted on a social media service; and

                     (b)  the material was the subject of a compliant that was made to the provider of the service; and

                     (c)  the material was not removed from the service within:

                              (i)  48 hours after the complaint was made; or

                             (ii)  such longer period as the Commissioner allows; and

                     (d)  a complaint has been made to the Commissioner under section 5 about the material; and

                     (e)  the Commissioner is satisfied that it is reasonably likely that the material defamed or defames the complainant; and

                      (f)  the complainant is an Australian;

the Commissioner may give the provider of the service a written notice (a defamation notice) that:

                     (g)  identifies the material and the complainant; and

                     (h)  states that the Commissioner is satisfied that it is reasonably likely that the material defames the complainant; and

                      (i)  explains the effect of section 28.

             (2)  So far as is reasonably practicable, the material must be identified in the defamation notice in a way that is sufficient to enable the provider of the service to remove the material.

Notice of refusal to give a defamation notice

             (3)  If the Commissioner decides to refuse to give a defamation notice under subsection (1), the Commissioner must give written notice of the refusal to the person who made a section 5 complaint about the material concerned.

28  Consequence of defamation notices—providers liable for defamation

             (1)  If:

                     (a)  the Commissioner gives a defamation notice to the provider of a social media service in relation to material posted on the service; and

                     (b)  the material is not removed from the service within:

                              (i)  48 hours after the defamation notice is given; or

                             (ii)  such longer period as the Commissioner allows; and

                     (c)  the end‑user who posted the material is liable to an action for defamation for publishing the material;

the provider is jointly and severally liable with the end‑user for that defamation.

             (2)  If damages are awarded against the provider because of subsection (1), the provider may recover the amount of the damages from the end‑user.

             (3)  This section does not limit any liability the provider would have apart from this section.

Part 5Enforcement

  

29  Civil penalty provisions

Enforceable civil penalty provisions

             (1)  Each civil penalty provision of this Act is enforceable under Part 4 of the Regulatory Powers Act.

Note:          Part 4 of the Regulatory Powers Act allows a civil penalty provision to be enforced by obtaining an order for a person to pay a pecuniary penalty for the contravention of the provision.

Authorised applicant

             (2)  For the purposes of Part 4 of the Regulatory Powers Act, the Commissioner is an authorised applicant in relation to a civil penalty provisions of this Act.

             (3)  For the purposes of Part 4 of the Regulatory Powers Act, the Federal Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia are relevant courts in relation to a civil penalty provision of this Act.

Extension to external Territories etc.

             (4)  Part 4 of the Regulatory Powers Act, as it applies in relation to a civil penalty provision in this Act, extends to:

                     (a)  every external Territory; and

                     (b)  acts, omissions, matters and things outside Australia.

30  Infringement notices

Provisions subject to an infringement notice

             (1)  A civil penalty provision of this Act is subject to an infringement notice under Part 5 of the Regulatory Powers Act.

Note:          Part 5 of the Regulatory Powers Act creates a framework for using infringement notices in relation to provisions.

Infringement officer

             (2)  For the purposes of Part 5 of the Regulatory Powers Act, a member of the staff of the ACMA authorised, in writing, by the Commissioner for the purposes of this subsection is an infringement officer in relation to the provisions mentioned in subsection (1).

Relevant chief executive

             (3)  For the purposes of Part 5 of the Regulatory Powers Act, the Commissioner is the relevant chief executive in relation to the provisions mentioned in subsection (1).

             (4)  The relevant chief executive may, in writing, delegate any or all of the relevant chief executive’s powers and functions under Part 5 of the Regulatory Powers Act to a person who is:

                     (a)  a member of the staff of the ACMA; and

                     (b)  an SES employee or acting SES employee.

             (5)  A person exercising powers or performing functions under a delegation under subsection (4) must comply with any directions of the relevant chief executive.

Extension to external Territories etc.

             (6)  Part 5 of the Regulatory Powers Act, as it applies in relation to the provisions mentioned in subsection (1), extends to:

                     (a)  every external Territory; and

                     (b)  acts, omissions, matters and things outside Australia.

31  Enforceable undertakings

Enforceable provisions

             (1)  The civil penalty provisions of this Act are enforceable under Part 6 of the Regulatory Powers Act.

Note:          Part 6 of the Regulatory Powers Act creates a framework for accepting and enforcing undertakings relating to compliance with provisions.

Authorised person

             (2)  The Commissioner is an authorised person in relation to the provisions mentioned in subsection (1) for the purposes of Part 6 of the Regulatory Powers Act.

Relevant court

             (3)  The Federal Court of Australian and the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia are relevant courts in relation to the provisions mentioned in subsection (1) for the purposes of Part 6 of the Regulatory Powers Act.

Extension to external Territories etc.

             (4)  Part 6 of the Regulatory Powers Act, as it applies in relation to the provisions mentioned in subsection (1), extends to:

                     (a)  every external Territory; and

                     (b)  acts, omissions, matters and things outside Australia.

32  Injunctions

Enforceable provisions

             (1)  A civil penalty provision of this Act is enforceable under Part 7 of the Regulatory Powers Act.

Note:          Part 7 of the Regulatory Powers Act creates a framework for using injunctions to enforce provisions.

Authorised person

             (2)  The Commissioner is an authorised person in relation to the provisions mentioned in subsection (1) for the purposes of Part 7 of the Regulatory Powers Act.

Relevant court

             (3)  The Federal Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia are relevant courts in relation to the provisions mentioned in subsection (1) for the purposes of Part 7 of the Regulatory Powers Act.

Extension to external Territories etc.

             (4)  Part 7 of the Regulatory Powers Act, as it applies in relation to the provisions mentioned in subsection (1), extends to:

                     (a)  every external Territory; and

                     (b)  acts, omissions, matters and things outside Australia.

Part 6Information‑gathering powers

  

33  Commissioner may obtain end‑user identity information or contact details

Scope

             (1)  This section applies to a person if:

                     (a)  the person is the provider of a social media service; and

                     (b)  the Commissioner believes on reasonable grounds that the person has:

                              (i)  information about the identity of an end‑user of the service; or

                             (ii)  contact details of an end‑user of the service; and

                     (c)  the Commissioner believes on reasonable grounds that the information is, or the contact details are, relevant to the operation of this Act.

Requirement

             (2)  The Commissioner may, by written notice given to the person, require the person:

                     (a)  if subparagraph (1)(b)(i) applies—to give to the Commissioner, within the period and in the manner and form specified in the notice, any such information; or

                     (b)  if subparagraph (1)(b)(ii) applies—to give to the Commissioner, within the period and in the manner and form specified in the notice, any such contact details.

34  Compliance with notice

                   A person must comply with a requirement under section 33 to the extent that the person is capable of doing so.

Civil penalty:          100 penalty units.

35  Self incrimination

             (1)  A person is not excused from giving information or contact details under section 33 on the ground that the information or contact details might tend to incriminate the person.

             (2)  However, in the case of an individual:

                     (a)  the information or contact details given; or

                     (b)  giving the information or contact details; or

                     (c)  any information, document or thing obtained as a direct or indirect consequence of giving the information or contact details;

is not admissible in evidence against the individual:

                     (d)  in civil proceedings for the recovery of a penalty (other than proceedings for the recovery of a penalty under section 195); or

                     (e)  in criminal proceedings (other than proceedings for an offence against section 137.1 or 137.2 of the Criminal Code that relates to this Part).

             (3)  If, at general law, an individual would otherwise be able to claim the privilege against self exposure to a penalty (other than a penalty for an offence) in relation to giving information or contact details under section 40, the individual is not excused from giving information or contact details under that section on that ground.

Note:          A body corporate is not entitled to claim the privilege against self exposure to a penalty.

Part 7Investigative powers

  

36  Application of this Part

                   This Part applies to an investigation by the Commissioner under section 6.

37  Notice requiring appearance for examination

                   For the purposes of an investigation by the Commissioner, the Commissioner may give a written notice to a person summoning the person:

                     (a)  to attend before:

                              (i)  the Commissioner; or

                             (ii)  a delegate of the Commissioner named in the notice;

                            to produce documents or to answer questions; or

                     (b)  to provide documents or other information to the Commissioner;

relevant to the subject matter of the investigation.

38  Examination on oath or affirmation

             (1)  If a person is summoned to attend before the Commissioner or a delegate of the Commissioner, the Commissioner or delegate may examine the person on oath or affirmation and, for that purpose:

                     (a)  may require the person to take an oath or make an affirmation; and

                     (b)  may administer an oath or affirmation to the person.

             (2)  The oath or affirmation is to be an oath or affirmation that the statements the person will make will be true to the best of the person’s knowledge or belief.

             (3)  The Commissioner or delegate may require the person to answer a question that is put to the person at an examination and that is relevant to a matter that the Commissioner is investigating or is to investigate.

39  Examination to take place in private

                   The examination of a person for the purposes of an investigation must be conducted in private, but the person is entitled to have an adviser present at the examination.

40  Record to be made of examination

             (1)  If a person is examined by the Commissioner or a delegate of the Commissioner, a record must be made of the examination and the person is entitled to be given a written copy of the record.

             (2)  If the record of the examination of a person is made in electronic form, the person is, if the person so requests, to be given a copy of the record in that form.

41  Production of documents for inspection

                   The Commissioner may, by written notice given to a person, require the person:

                     (a)  to make available for inspection by:

                              (i)  the Commissioner; or

                             (ii)  a delegate of the Commissioner;

                            any documents in the possession of the person that may contain information relevant to the subject matter of an investigation by the Commissioner; and

                     (b)  to permit the Commissioner or the delegate, as the case may be, to make copies of any such documents.

42  Protection of persons giving evidence

                   A person who gives evidence or produces documents at an investigation by the Commissioner has the same protection as a witness in a proceeding in the High Court.

43  Non compliance with requirement to give evidence

             (1)  A person required to answer a question, to give evidence or to produce documents under this Part must not:

                     (a)  when required to take an oath or make an affirmation, refuse or fail to take the oath or make the affirmation; or

                     (b)  refuse or fail to answer a question that the person is required to answer; or

                     (c)  refuse or fail to produce a document that the person is required to produce.

Penalty:  Imprisonment for 12 months.

             (2)  A person required to answer a question, to give evidence or to produce documents under this Part must not:

                     (a)  when required to take an oath or make an affirmation, refuse or fail to take the oath or make the affirmation; or

                     (b)  refuse or fail to answer a question that the person is required to answer; or

                     (c)  refuse or fail to produce a document that the person is required to produce.

Civil penalty:          100 penalty units.

             (3)  Subsections (1) and (2) do not apply if the person has a reasonable excuse.

Note:          A defendant bears an evidential burden in relation to the matters mentioned in this subsection: see subsection 13.3(3) of the Criminal Code and section 96 of the Regulatory Powers Act.

             (4)  Subsections (1) and (2) do not apply to a refusal to answer a question, or a refusal to produce a document, if the answer to the question or the production of the document would tend to incriminate the person.

Note:          A defendant bears an evidential burden in relation to the matters mentioned in this subsection: see subsection 13.3(3) of the Criminal Code and section 96 of the Regulatory Powers Act.

             (5)  Subsections (1) and (2) do not apply if:

                     (a)  the person is a journalist; and

                     (b)  the answer to the question or the production of the document would tend to disclose the identity of a person who supplied information in confidence to the journalist.

Part 8Miscellaneous

  

44  Review of decisions

             (1)  Applications may be made to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for review of decisions of the Commissioner under section 27 to give defamation notices.

             (2)  An application under subsection (1) of this section in relation to a defamation notice may only be made by:

                     (a)  the provider of the social media service to which the notice was given; or

                     (b)  the end‑user who posted the material the subject of the notice.

             (3)  Applications may be made to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for review of decisions of the Commissioner not to give defamation notices that relate to material posted on a social media service.

             (4)  An application under subsection (3) may only be made by a person who made a section 5 complaint about the relevant material.

45  Protection from civil proceedings

             (1)  Civil proceedings do not lie against a person in respect of loss, damage or injury of any kind suffered by another person because of any of the following acts done in good faith:

                     (a)  the making of a complaint under section 5;

                     (b)  the making of a statement to, or the giving of a document or information to, the Commissioner in connection with an investigation under section 6.

             (2)  Civil proceedings do not lie against a person in respect of anything done by the person:

                     (a)  for the purposes of removing material specified in a defamation notice; or

                     (b)  in compliance with a notice under subsection 33(2).

46  Liability for damages

                   None of the following:

                     (a)  the Commissioner;

                     (b)  a delegate of the Commissioner;

is liable to an action or other proceeding for damages for, or in relation to, an act or matter in good faith done or omitted to be done:

                     (c)  in the performance or purported performance of any function; or

                     (d)  in the exercise or purported exercise of any power;

conferred on the Commissioner by or under this Act.

47  Copies of material

             (1)  The Commissioner may make one or more copies of material for the purposes of an investigation under section 6.

             (2)  The Commissioner does not infringe copyright if the Commissioner does anything authorised by subsection (1).

48  Implied freedom of political communication

             (1)  This Act does not apply to the extent (if any) that it would infringe any constitutional doctrine of implied freedom of political communication.

             (2)  Subsection (1) does not limit the application of section 15A of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901 to this Act.

49  Concurrent operation of State and Territory laws

                   It is the intention of the Parliament that this Act is not to apply to the exclusion of a law of a State or Territory to the extent to which that law is capable of operating concurrently with this Act.

50  This Act not to affect performance of State or Territory functions

                   A power conferred by this Act must not be exercised in such a way as to prevent the exercise of the powers, or the performance of the functions, of government of a State, the Northern Territory or the Australian Capital Territory.

51  Legislative rules

             (1)  The Minister may, by legislative instrument (and subject to subsection (2)), make rules (legislative rules) prescribing matters:

                     (a)  required or permitted by this Act to be prescribed by the legislative rules; or

                     (b)  necessary or convenient to be prescribed for carrying out or giving effect to this Act.

             (2)  To avoid doubt, the legislative rules may not do the following:

                     (a)  create an offence or civil penalty;

                     (b)  provide powers of:

                              (i)  arrest or detention; or

                             (ii)  entry, search or seizure;

                     (c)  impose a tax;

                     (d)  set an amount to be appropriated from the Consolidated Revenue Fund under an appropriation in this Act;

                     (e)  amend this Act.