Queensland MP wants eSafety to enforce “criminal post” takedowns
A private member’s bill to stop an alleged surge in youths streaming criminal exploits to their TikTok and Instagram followers was introduced in the House of Representatives yesterday.
Liberal minister Garth Hamilton told parliament that he’s aware of carjackings, house burglaries and other crimes being streamed.
He said the eSafety Commissioner should use the suite of powers she gained last year – orders to platforms to unmask account holders, content removal notices and hefty fines – to purge social media of “criminal activity material”.
The Queensland MP said he had seen social media footage of a “youth crime crisis” in Toowoomba posted by perpetrators.
“On Instagram there are dozens of these pages, referencing the postcode 4350 and my electorate…
“One of the worst ones is a picture of a young gentleman standing next to an elderly female victim that he’s robbing from beside her bed taking a photo while she sleeps and posting this online.”
“They’re pumping soundtracks and modern music and great graphics … these kids are being recruited online by videos taken of these crimes,” Hamilton added.
The Liberal MP’s private member bill [pdf] would enable Commissioner Julie Inman Grant to respond to complaints about the “glamorised” offences as she can to reports of cyberbullying, non-consensually shared intimate images, adult cyber abuse and illegal and age-restricted content.
The Online Safety Act enables Grant to fine companies like social media platforms and internet or hosting providers $687,500, and individuals $137,500 when they fail to delete or block links, apps, posts and other content within 24-hours after receiving her removal notice.
Companies can also be fined up to $137,500, and end-users $27,500, for failing to provide the identity or contact information of an account suspected of contravening the act.
Hamilton’s drafted amendments to the Online Safety Act 2021 specify that “criminal activity material” would have to be “posted on the service by a person depicted in the material for the purpose of gaining notoriety.”
The scope of “criminal activity material” is not addressed in either the bill or its explanatory memorandum [pdf], but Hamilton referred to “drug use”, “car theft,” “speeding”, “assault” and “battery,” when introducing the bill.
Content depicting offences like torture and kidnapping are already policed under eSafety’s ‘online content scheme’.
Last year, Queensland Police assistant commissioner and head of youth justice task force Cheryl Scanlon also called for eSafety to stamp out the digital delinquents.
“We will be moving to disrupt and have accounts shut down, with the assistance of the national eSafety Commissioner and our partner agencies,” Scanlon told Tropic Now in November.
“A key feature is youth crime increasingly being posted and propagated on social media, causing harm in the community,” she added.
Hamilton’s bill coincides with similar laws passed in his home state earlier this month that made perpetrators of carjackings posting the offence over social media an aggravating factor.
The Palaszczuk government’s Strengthening Community Safety Bill 2023 also allows 15-year-old offenders to be monitored with GPS devices chained to their ankle, which is being trialed in Tawoomba.
The bill also made it an offence for children to breach their bail conditions, which required overturning sections of Queensland’s Human Rights Act 2019.