The NSW Council for Civil Liberties (NSWCCL) welcomes the opportunity to make a submission to the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communication and the Arts (the Department) in regard to the exposure draft of the Communications Legislation Amendment (Combatting Misinformation and Disinformation) Bill 2023 (the Draft Bill).
The NSWCCL acknowledges the harms caused by misinformation and disinformation, particularly as they relate to: the erosion of trust in democratic processes; the weakening of trust generally between and among public and private entities; and, the undermining of an informed populace.
However, the NSWCCL is concerned that the Draft Bill does not sufficiently consider freedoms of expression and assembly, nor take into account the potential for misinformation to be spread by means and entities that are outside the Draft Bill's scope.
In the submission, NSWCCL comments on the Draft Bill's proposed changes and highlights and expands upon some of the shortcomings of the bill and recommendations that NSWCCL propose. These include:
- Excluding some sources undermines the policy objectives of the Draft Bill
- Private messaging services are known vectors of disinformation and misinformation and it is important mechanisms are in place to minimise harm (with appropriate regard to privacy concerns)
- The definition of harm could limit the ability of individuals to protest
- The definition of misinformation and disinformation should not include 'harm'
- The determination of serious harm is unclear
- Service providers have the power to determine the seriousness of harms
- Individuals who have been adversely affected have no means to appeal a decision or seek compensation
- Combating misinformation and disinformation will require more than a reporting mechanism
For more information, read our full submission.