The Australian government is taking public comments until Aug. 20 on a proposed piece of legislation called the “Combatting Misinformation and Disinformation” Bill 2023. Presented as a measure to protect Australians from false, misleading or deceptive information, or from information intended to cause serious harm, the bill actually is “a dangerous attempt to gain control and limit our freedom,” according to Michelle Pearse, CEO of the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL).
The bill is “especially dangerous for Christians who want to express an alternate view to woke culture on gender and sexuality and for those who want to speak out against abortion,” she added in a video from ACL.
“The bill is based on providing the media watchdog, the Australian Communications and Media Authority, with the power to strictly regulate what they interpret as harmful information and expression on online platforms like social media,” Pearse explained. “Now, it goes without saying that as Christians, we don’t hate those with alternate views. But we believe that disagreeing and loving can coexist. In fact, at times it’s loving to disagree.
“However, as we’ve seen time and time again, there are strong elements of our culture who label our disagreement or us pointing out the issues we have with gender theory or abortion as ‘hate’ or ‘harmful.’”
If adopted, the bill would require digital platforms to keep records regarding misinformation and disinformation, and to develop an industry code of practice covering measures they will use to combat such content. Digital platform providers that don’t take sufficient action regarding their record-keeping or removing content deemed to be misinformation or disinformation could be subject to millions of dollars in fines.
“So out of fear of penalty, digital platforms will play it safe,” Pearse said. “You will be censored. … This is not democracy.”
The ACL is encouraging citizens to make their voices heard by commenting at the government’s website by the Aug. 20 deadline.
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