Today Show with Sylvia Jeffreys and Karl Stefanovic
Subjects: privacy laws, privacy legislation, social media companies, net zero
SYLVIA JEFFREYS: Facebook is facing renewed pressure this morning to protect children online, with the federal government considering new laws that require parental permission to sign up.
KARL STEFANOVIC: For more, we're joined by Attorney-General Michaelia Cash in Canberra. Good morning, to you. Nice to see you this morning. Appreciate your time. This seems long overdue, what was the problem?
MINISTER CASH: The problem is these social media companies, they need to be held to account in terms of how they collect, use and disclose your personal information online. But in particular, the way that they treat a child's personal information online. This is all about ensuring that social media companies put the best interests of Australia’s children first, not their big profits, but the best interests of Australia’s children first, in how they collect, use, and disclose their personal information.
SYLVIA JEFFREYS: So these new rules will be among the strictest in the world, how are they going to work?
MINISTER CASH: That's exactly right. So we've now released the draft legislation, and we're going to put together an online privacy code that will commence 12 months after the legislation is formally passed. And that will actually set out the rules by which social media companies in Australia will now have to play by. I mean, Karl, I know you have kids, you wouldn't want your young daughter, you know, 13, 14 years of age, being targeted online with say diet pills. You look at the increase in mental illness in Australia, in particular, among children, you look at parents’ concerns, in particular with young girls, and eating disorders. So much of this stems from how they are targeted online, by social media, we've said enough is enough.
KARL STEFANOVIC: It’s very difficult to do something about it though to look, I love the cause. I'm not sure why it's going to take you 12 months, but I love I love the idea of trying to control all of this, but it's hard to police. I mean, how you're going to stay on top of it?
MINISTER CASH: There are going to be incredibly large fines for those social media companies that breached the online code.
KARL STEFANOVIC: And what is a breach? What does a breach look like? Say for example, you've got a child who lives in in Brissy, and they start getting targeted in a certain way and how do you prosecute that breach?
MINISTER CASH: That's exactly right and that's something that the Information Commissioner will be doing. The Information Commissioner will be the person who is in charge of the new Online Code. But for example, Facebook recently, there were reports, they actually kicked off 600,000 children under the age of 13. So we know these social media companies, they already have the ability, because let's face it, we now live in the world of algorithms, to actually determine whether or not you should be on their site. They already know how to do that, what we're now saying is, you will now utilise that capacity, you will ensure you have a social licence to operate and when you collect, use, and disclose Australians personal information, you will do it in a way that respects that information, respects the user but more than that, if the child is 18 or under or 16 or under, we're going to require parental consent. And that social media company, you put the best interests of that child first, not your huge multimillion slash multibillion profit.
SYLVIA JEFFREYS: Have you had a reaction from the likes of Facebook over these new rules yet?
MINISTER CASH: Well, certainly social media companies, they understand that they need to do better. And I was pleased to see that some social media companies last night said that they will work with the government in relation to the online, the new online code. But at the end of the day, you know, this is now the world we live in, the regulation that you see in the physical world, it now needs to be mirrored in the digital world. We have a duty to ensure that your personal information is properly looked after and that's what we're doing. But in particular, when it comes to, you know, our young people, you use, you collect, and you disclose that bit that information and at all times at all times, you put the best interests of those children first, not the multimillion slash multi billion dollars in profits that you are making.
KARL STEFANOVIC: Okay, I mean, something needs to be done. I'm glad that we're stepping towards it. Moving on, the Nationals back the PMs net zero plan. What has the government promised them in return Michaelia?
MINISTER CASH: The government's working with the National Party in the best interests of all Australians. And what I'd say to Australians is this, in terms of net zero by 2050? Who do you trust? Do you trust the coalition government that will ensure that we get there by utilising technology and not taxes or Anthony Albanese and Labor and let's face it, been there, done that, and all that they can do is look at how that they can increase the price of electricity and put further taxes on the Australian people. We are working as a Coalition team in the best interests of every single Australian to achieve net zero by 2030 [correction: 2050].
SYLVIA JEFFREYS: Were you surprised that Barnaby rolled over so easily?
KARL STEFANOVIC: So easily.
MINISTER CASH: Oh, that's for you to say. We are working together. We've obviously had discussions. We've obviously had discussions, the National Party, they've worked through their party room process, and we’ve worked through our party room process. But ultimately the decision has been made. It is a decision that we're all going to now work towards implementing. But again, it really comes down to who do you trust, the Coalition that has a proven track record in lowering Australia's emissions, ensuring that energy prices don't rise by not imposing and this is really important, one further tax on the Australian people. We're not going to put further costs on the Australian people, or again, Anthony Albanese, and Labor, been there done that they raise energy prices, but worse than that, they put additional taxes on the Australia people.
KARL STEFANOVIC: It sounds like your election campaign, been there, done that. Sylvia's got a good one to finish.
SYLVIA JEFFREYS: Well, I just wondered if you have any concerns over the federal resources Minister Keith Pitt, not seeming to quite grasp how renewables work.
MINISTER CASH: I have a lot of time for Keith Pitt. He is an outstanding minister. In particular when it comes to standing up for the mining and resources industry in Australia.
KARL STEFANOVIC: What do you think about his abilities to understand solar panels not working at night Michaelia? Come on.
MINISTER CASH: Oh, look, come on. Keith Pitt is an outstanding minister. He gets what's in the best interest of Australians but in particular, ensuring that we utilise technology not taxes to reach net zero by 2050.
KARL STEFANOVIC: I don't think he quite understands the tech.
SYLVIA JEFFREYS: He just got himself a handy little pay rise with that promotion to cabinet so perhaps he can wack some panels on his roof as well. Michaelia Cash we appreciate your time.
KARL STEFANOVIC: Good on you Michaelia, keep working hard against those techs too, it’s important.
MINISTER CASH: Great to be with you. Thank you.