The federal government has pledged $14.2 million over four years towards keeping more Australians safe online.
A bulk of the funding, announced as part of the 2018 budget, will go to the Office of the eSafety Commissioner as it expands in its role to protect more Australians.
“This funding includes $11.7 million for new functions undertaken by the eSafety Office following the expansion of its role from promoting online safety for children to promoting online safety for all Australians,” detailed the budget paper.
The Office of the eSafety Commissioner, originally named the Children’s eSafety Commissioner, was launched in 2015 as an independent statutory office within the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).
Headed by Julie Inman Grant, the office works towards promoting online safety through initiatives that address online safety issues like cyberbullying, image abuse and child safety.
The budget funding will go towards new eSafety enforcements aimed at stopping non-consensual image abuse.
“These new functions include administering a new civil penalty regime to combat the non-consensual sharing of intimate images, and providing guidance and support to Australians of all ages who experience online abuse,” the budget said.
It comes as the Enhancing Online Safety (Non-consensual Sharing of Intimate Images) Bill 2018, recently passed the Senate.
The changes will strengthen rules around ‘revenge porn’ – giving the eSafety Commissioner the power to issue ‘removal notices’ and hit perpetrators with heavy fines of up to $105,000 for sharing intimate images without permission.
This will also mean social media networks like Facebook and Twitter can face fines of up to $525,000 if they fail to prevent image-based abuse.
The remaining $2.5 million has been set aside for the office’s eSafety Women and Certified Providers programs.
eSafety Women began in 2016 as an initiative to help Australian women protect themselves from technology-facilitated abuse, while the Certified Providers program accredits various online safety programs.