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Australian ‘anti-troll’ bill will force social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter to disclose users’ identities

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In an effort to combat online trolling, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is set to introduce a new anti-troll Bill that would require online social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to reveal the identities of anonymous users.

According to ABC News Australia, the new laws would require social media companies to collect all user information and allow courts to order social media companies to hand over user identities in defamation cases.

“Companies would be required to create a complaints process for people who feel they have been defamed online. The laws would allow courts to force companies to handover the identities of users if people wanted to pursue legal action,” the report said on Sunday.

The legislation, which is expected to be introduced in Parliament early next year, will be released in draught form this week.

“The rules that exist in the real world must exist in the digital and online world. The online world shouldn’t be a wild west, where bots and bigots and trolls and others can anonymously go around and harm people and hurt people,” Morrison was quoted as saying in the report.

Under the new law, if the user refuses to remove the content or the complainant wishes to pursue further action, the company must obtain the user’s permission to release their personal information.

“If the user does not consent to their details being released, a court order can be made requiring the company to release them — allowing the complainant to pursue defamation action,” the report noted.

“We will be looking for test cases that can reinforce these laws. So if the digital companies or others think they’re only just going to have to be dealing with perhaps someone of little means seeking to pursue this, then we will look for those cases,” said Morrison.

“We will back them in the courts and we will take them on.”

Twitter and Facebook had yet to comment on the proposed legislation.

The proposed legislation is part of a larger initiative to reform Australia’s defamation laws.

About the author

Polina Tikhonova

Polina Tikhonova from Kyiv is Insider Paper’s Editor/Writer. Besides editing pieces, Polina covers articles with a focus on World affairs and politics at Insider Paper. Polina holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. Her articles and news reports have been published by many newspapers, magazines, journals, blogs, and online media sources across the globe. Polina is fluent in English, German, Ukrainian, and Russian.

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