Human rights and civil liberties groups, including NSW Council for Civil Liberties, have expressed serious doubts about Labor’s move to minimise misinformation, claiming its proposed law threatens free speech and democratic rights.
The rights groups join a growing coalition of voices criticising the Albanese government’s bid to give the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) powers to penalise groups like Meta if they fail to remove misinformation and disinformation.
NSW and Queensland’s peak civil liberties bodies have both revealed their opposition to sections of Labor’s draft bill, arguing it gives the government body too much power to police speech.
The proposal in the bill to clamp down on people whose commentary may disrupt public order or cause economic harm could have a “chilling effect on the right to protest, stifling debate and freedoms of assembly,” according to NSW Council for Civil Liberties president Josh Pallas.
Pallas said the proposal to exempt government information from being categorised as misinformation carried the implication that governments were, by definition, truthful at all times.
“This is a dangerous proposition for any free society,” he said.
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