What Are The RES / DIS Codes And Why Do They Matter?


The eSafety Commissioner decided not to approve the Relevant Electronic Services (RES) and Designated Internet Services (DIS) codes because they didn’t go far enough in protecting children. 

DIS includes app providers, website operators, and services for storing files and photos such as Apple iCloud, Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive. RES pertains to dating sites, online games, and instant messaging.

Commissioner Julie Inman Grant will now create mandatory industry standards that tech companies must follow. These standards will require them to scan emails, online photos, cloud storage, and dating sites for illegal content. Failure to comply may result in fines of up to $700,000 per day. 

The methods proposed for identifying illegal content involve machine learning, artificial intelligence, and hashing. In hashing, digital fingerprints called “hashes” are generated from files in a database. Tech providers compare a user’s file hashes with their database to check for matches, in order to identify child abuse content. 

EFA board member John Pane recently discussed EFA’s concerns about the new codes in an interview with ABC Afternoons. Listen to the full interview here or read the recap below.

Limited consultation, Orwellian concerns

The legislative changes were rushed, with little input from civil society organizations like EFA, Australian Privacy Foundation, and Digital Rights Watch. This lack of balanced consultation raises concerns about the process and its impact.

Safety vs. surveillance

Creating a child-centric internet isn’t the solution. There are other avenues to address the issue of violent and extreme content that are based on harm reduction and risk prevention.

Safeguarding our privacy rights is crucial to prevent potential consequences such as limitations on freedom of association, political speech, and discouraging whistleblowers from using secure messaging services to report important matters. There are multiple aspects to consider in this complex issue.

Scope creep warnings

Mandating organisations to infiltrate and scan private communications for certain materials is challenging and prone to false-positives. This requirement sets a dangerous precedent that could lead to infringement on freedom of speech and potential scope creep in the future.

What’s your take on this? Are you concerned about government surveillance of your emails and attachments? Do you see this as a potential threat to our freedom to communicate and our right to privacy? Or do you support the need to prevent offensive content?

(Photo credit: Unsplash)

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