The proposed Communications Legislation Amendment (Combatting Misinformation and Disinformation) Bill 2023 is a disaster, threatening rational discussion and our democratic system, while stifling innovation and the whole process should be started again or abandoned completely.
In 2019 the ACCC conducted an inquiry into Digital Platforms where it recommended some further work be done on “disinformation” and “malinformation”, but that misinformation should be left alone.
The News and Media Research Centre at Canberra University conducted some follow-up research for the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) in 2020: COVID-19: Australian news and misinformation longitudinal study which purported to find a problem with misinformation on digital platforms.
This has led to ACMA proposing wide-ranging controls over what can be posted to websites.
The Canberra University research is low quality and actually demonstrates the reverse of what it claims to prove. Of the 5 propositions it gives as examples of misinformation none can be classified as misinformation. Over the course of the pandemic we discovered that many things originally thought to be correct were wrong, and vice versa.
So from its inception the bill is misconceived.
Our submission, which you can download from here, goes into more detail.
This is a dangerous bill which would make a government regulator, ACMA, the arbiter of what is and what is not true, it almost certainly breeches the implied right to political communication in the constitution, and it unconscionably proposes to exempt government publications from its requirements.
It is not fit for a modern democratic society.