New online laws could cost jobs

Social media platforms and dating applications may be forced to change the way they do business due to new laws that could restrict illicit material and leave some industry sex workers jobless.

The new Online Safety Bill that is being drafted aims to protect online users from potential harm and offensive content online, which has caused scrutiny of the adult entertainment industry.

The provisions in the online Bill will be managed by the office of the E-Safety Commissioner which will decide what material gets taken down with penalties upwards of $110,000.

The proposed legislation allows the Commissioner of E-Safety to put in place restrictions to protect users.

Popular platforms such as Tinder, Grindr are at risk of being unavailable for download.

Instagram and recently added Twitter and Twitch are concerned about the new legislation and how it will affect their platforms.

Computer screen with Tinder homepage as background. Photo: Talia Pieri.

Digital rights experts have warned about the laws giving power to the E-safety Commissioner.

They predict consequences if there is any sort of engagement with illicit online material.

“The way this Bill is drafted is unprecedented globally,” Lucie Krahulcova from Digital Rights Watch says.

Industry sex workers are currently in a state of threat of being removed from social media platforms due to “digital gentrification’’ and the process of ‘sanitising’ online spaces.

Gala Vanting from the Australian Sex Workers Association, Scarlett Alliance, says the Bill could threaten their presence on social media, as their content is classified of a sexual nature.

“It’s pretty much every type of sexual content from art nudes all the way to hard-core pornography. The Bill describes all those types of content as harmful,” she says.

This has left the online workers in a state of panic about the proposed legislation.

It has made users worried about earning a living during the aftermath of the pandemic, as sex industry workers have had to move online due to lockdowns in many states.

The Online Safety Bill also has a provision to ensure that children are protected from accessing content that is deemed inappropriate.

This may classify sex worker websites as unsafe and at a high risk of being eliminated.

Infographic: Talia Pieri.