The Morrison Government will consider a radical measure to prevent online bullying and trolling, but experts say the proposal would involve serious risks for social media users.
The government is considering forcing users of social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram — as well as online dating platforms like Tinder — to upload 100 points of identification in order to use them.
The recommendation, which has been raised before, is one of 88 recommendations from a parliamentary committee report looking at family, domestic and sexual violence.
“In order to open or maintain an existing social media account, customers should be required by law to identify themselves to a platform using 100 points of identification, in the same way as a person must provide identification for a mobile phone account, or to buy a mobile SIM card,” the report suggests.
It goes on to say that social media platforms “must provide those identifying details when requested by the eSafety Commissioner, law enforcement or as directed by the court”.
In a nutshell, it would remove the anonymity for those who use such platforms to bully, harass or intimidate other users.
But it would also mean social media giants — many of which have suffered serious privacy breaches in the past — are holding even more precious information about its users.
“Are we turning into North Korea? This is Orwellian,” one user wrote on Twitter after reading the recommendation.
“I’m a social media manager and I honestly don’t get enough out of social media to justify giving them access to my ID,” another wrote.
Emily van der Nagal is a lecturer at Monash University in Melbourne. She wrote her PhD thesis on the value of social media anonymity and pseudonymity and said of the recommendation: “Don’t do this.”
“Hello, it’s me, a social media researcher who has argued time and time again that it’s not a good idea to force people to submit ID to use social media,” she wrote on Twitter.
“It won’t solve harassment; it will only further harm already vulnerable groups. Don’t do this.”
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It is a message shared by the Queensland Anti-cyber-bullying Taskforce,