Australian Government: ‘Misinformation Bill will not censor Christian teaching’

The Australian Government has pledged to overhaul its proposed misinformation Bill, following concerns it could lead to online censorship of biblical sexual ethics.

During a consultation on the draft ‘Communications Legislation Amendment (Combatting Misinformation and Disinformation) Bill’, the Australian Christian Lobby warned that churches could be blocked from “expressing an alternate view to the prevailing woke culture on gender and sexuality”.

The Bill, which has been delayed to 2024 to consider the concerns, is now set to include an exemption for religious expression in addition to protections for academics, professional news organisations, and governments.

Religious expression

Under the proposals, the Australian Communications and Media Authority would require social media companies to strengthen their policies on content deemed to be “false, misleading or deceptive, and where the provision of that content on the service is reasonably likely to cause or contribute to serious harm”.

Companies that do not comply with the law could be fined up to $6.88 million, or 5 per cent of a company’s global turnover.

Communications Minister Michelle Rowland said the Bill’s definitions would be reassessed, stating: “We want to make it as explicit as possible that nothing in this Bill can inhibit religious expression.

“That would be a new area that wasn’t considered at the time of the original consultation being commenced, but it clearly is important and we want to address it.”

Online Safety Act

In October, the UK Government’s Online Safety Bill became law after receiving Royal Assent.

Prior to amendments, the Bill included controversial wording relating to the restriction of ‘legal but harmful’ content for adults.

This led to fears that social media companies – which have a track record of restricting Christian and socially conservative content – would inevitably go far beyond what the law sets out and censor traditional views on marriage, sexual ethics and gender.

But following representations from the Institute and other key stakeholders, the Government dropped the clauses last year.

Also see:

‘Knee-jerk reaction to extremism threatens free speech’, says Govt’s top terror adviser

Finnish Christian MP acquitted over ‘hate crime’ Bible tweet – again

Govt urged to ‘act now’ to further strengthen pornography restrictions

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