Only a quarter of Australians think tech companies are doing enough to keep them safe online, according to a new report
- A new report from Australia’s eSafety Commissioner found that while the overwhelming majority of people think tech companies have a responsibility to keep them safe online, few believe they are doing enough.
- Australians generally support using technology to assist dealing with internet hazards like flagging and removing child sexual abuse content or inappropriate content.
- While most Australians are confident they can solve problems generally, fewer feel confident about specific problems like cyberabuse or privacy breaches.
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As the online and offline lives of Australians continue to merge, awareness of the risks and hazards of the internet and how to deal with them is becoming increasingly important.
According to data released by Australia’s eSafety Commissioner, most Australians think the tech companies who dominate the internet aren’t doing enough to keep them safe.
The Commissioner’s Building Australian adults’ confidence and resilience online report includes a survey of 3,700 Australian adults about their attitudes towards the risks of online life.
The modern internet revolves around a handful of tech companies who provide products and services that most Australians use, like Facebook and Google.
And three quarters of Australians think these companies have a responsibility to protect them online.
But less than a quarter of Australians think they’re doing enough to keep them safe, like building safety features into their services and products.
The eSafety Commissioner, Julie Inman Grant, said that the tech industry has a duty of care to take care of their users.
“If the tech giants are building the digital roads, they also need to install the digital guard rails and virtual seatbelts to keep their users safe, and this is what our Safety by Design initiative is trying to achieve. Until they take this responsibility seriously, more and more users will end up as roadside casualties,” she said.
Australians generally support using technology to flag certain kinds of content. Two-thirds (67%) support scanning and blocking images of child sexual abuse and half of Australians (51%) want automatic flagging of inappropriate language and behaviour.
Generally, Australians felt confident about handling any problems online. Eight in ten said they had a good understanding of what could happen online, and seven in ten felt confident about using online technology.
But asked further, fewer Australians felt confident about how to solve specific issues. About two-thirds were confident they could protect their privacy (64%), identify whether information was reliable (59%), or deal with being cyber bullied (56%).
Despite this, just one in ten Australians sought or received information about how to respond to online incidents.
Inman Grant said despite her own staff’s best efforts, the sheer scale of the platforms made dealing with these problems difficult.
“eSafety’s small but dedicated team of investigators does a brilliant job of removing harmful content like child cyberbullying, image-based abuse and child sexual abuse material from the internet, but it can be a bit like playing a virtual game of whack-a-mole due to the size of some of these platforms,” she said.
“It’s obvious from this report that the Australian public want action, and they increasingly want action from the platforms themselves, who are well-placed with the resources, technological ability and intellectual capital to make it a reality.”