The nation’s peak law advocay legal body, The Law Council of Australia, is calling for a nationally consistent approach to law reform as ‘the best defence against social media defamation’.
In its submission on the Social Media (Anti-Trolling) Bill 2021 Exposure Draft, the Law Council recommends the federal government defer its push to address social media defamation until the comprehensive review of Model Defamation Provisions into the liability of internet intermediaries, which is currently underway, is completed.
Law Council president, Mr Tass Liveris said, ‘While the intentions of this Draft Bill are laudable, it is not likely to achieve the outcomes it seeks, and we think there are better alternatives already being investigated’.
The Law Council’s submission notes that despite its title, the Draft Bill does not address trolling, but rather focuses on defamation.
‘Defamation is actually only a very small proportion of what constitutes social media trolling’, Mr Liveris explained. ‘For many reasons, defamation law is likely to be a relatively ineffective mechanism for seeking individual reputational redress and for reducing trolling activity on social media. In practice, the Draft Bill will have very little impact in improving this situation’.
Mr Liveris said the Model Defamation Provisions review is a substantial process, and after completion could ensure that defamation law reform is ‘comprehensive, complementary, certain, and clear’.