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Michelle Rowland at the National Press Club yesterday (YouTube/ABCNews)

Communications Minister Michelle Rowland has signalled exemptions will remain for political parties and government bodies from complying with Labor’s proposed misinformation laws, despite widespread criticism over the carveout. Source: The Australian.

Ms Rowland said the exemption had been included in the first draft of the bill to ensure “official information” from governments — including disaster alerts — could not be removed by platforms under the new misinformation laws.

“That exemption was proposed to ensure that important emergency and otherwise official information from government that’s important to people wasn’t taken down or removed by platforms,” she told the National Press Club on Wednesday.

“We understand that that has been the subject to some misinterpretation. We want to get this drafting right, we want to ensure this reflects the proper intent and that is to hold digital platforms to account.”

The Government earlier this month declared it would delay legislating its landmark misinformation bill after significant pushback from legal experts, faith groups, the Coalition and independent MPs.

Under the proposed bill, the Australian Communications and Media Authority would be granted the power to fine social media giants millions of dollars for misinformation and content deemed harmful.

Ms Rowland said she understood there had been concern from a variety of faith groups, who argued their religious views should “not be considered as part of this rubric”, and left the door open to including such a carve out.

“We are working through that at the moment, and we’ll have more to say in due course,” she said. But Ms Rowland rebuffed calls for exemptions to be removed for authorised election material and media outlets. “I’ve made it clear that those exemptions are in there for a reason, it’s because they are regulated elsewhere under different standards and under other laws,” she said.


Labor’s misinformation bill to retain exemptions for political parties

(By Sarah Ison, The Australian)