Developed by Australia’s eSafety Commissioner, global tech companies who are interested in bolstering their online safety can now access a free-to-use range of interactive assessment tools.
The Australian eSafety Commissioner has recently launched a range of interactive assessment tools to be utilised for free by the region’s tech companies. Established in line with its Safety by Design initiative, use of the tools ensures that user safety remains front and centre of tech product design and development. These free tools are a critical step towards bolstering the global effort to make people safer online.
With more people online more often, there has been a dramatic increase in online abuse. In fact, more than three-quarters of UK adults are concerned about going online and only 55% of parents believe the benefits of online platforms outweigh the risks.
In the UK, this prompted the drafting of the Online Safety Bill in May this year. Leading the global charge in online regulation is Australia, which, almost six years ago, created the office of the eSafety Commissioner – the world’s first government agency dedicated exclusively to online safety.
In a similar vein to the product safety requirements for manufactured goods or food safety standards, the ‘Safety by Design’ initiative is that these same principles and duty of care should apply to tech companies too. Companies should be assessing and safeguarding against the risks of online interactions from their inception, whether that’s social media, an interactive gaming platform, or a dating site or app.
By using these new Safety by Design Assessment Tools, tech companies can work through step-by-step modules to assess their structure and leadership; internal policies and procedures; moderation, escalation and enforcement; user empowerment; and transparency and accountability. In doing this, users are empowered to guard against online social harm, to take responsibility for their product, and to ensure it’s fit for purpose and is protected against any subsequent reputational and revenue risk.
Additionally, by helping embed the fundamentals of online safety into their product design, culture, and day-to-day business operations from the outset, these tools can also identify and help plug any safeguarding gaps to avoid ‘tech wreck’ moments – the likes of which have garnered international headlines for big tech players like Zoom, Instagram and Clubhouse in recent years, and resulted in a number of safety risks for users.
Developed in consultation with more than 180 tech companies, advocates, and organisations around the world, the tools provide businesses of all sizes with a tailored report upon competition. Acting both as a safety health check and reference point this signposts refinement and drives future innovation – benefitting the global network of technology developers and users.
John Carr OBE, Online Safety Expert and Executive Board Member of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety, said, “The depth, breadth, and quality of this work is outstanding – Safety by Design is truly world-leading. Tech companies the world over will be beating a path to the eSafety Commissioner thanks to her leadership in online safety innovation.”
Julie Inman Grant, Australian eSafety Commissioner, added, “When we get into our cars, we take for granted that the brakes will work, the seatbelts will be effective and the airbags will deploy when needed. It’s only right that similar safeguards become standard in the online world.
“Building in sound safety practices upfront, rather than retrofitting safeguards after any damage has been done – after a ‘tech wreck’ moment – mitigates any further revenue, regulatory or reputational damage down the line, and provides an incentive for companies to make these tools a central part of their product design.
“Prioritising the safety, rights, and dignity of users will help create a culture of innovation, motivate workforces and ultimately positively impact bottom-lines. Our end goal here is to help companies lift their safety standards for the benefit of their users, and society more broadly.”