The rise of the internet has brought with it a huge range of benefits for society. However, it has also created a range of unique challenges that we are always trying to overcome, a major one being the way we deal with defamation.
The current Defamation Act came into effect in New South Wales on 1 January 2006 based on national model defamation provisions that were adopted by each of the States and Territories in 2005. At that time, social media was not such a huge part of our lives, as it is today. Now everyone who has a social media account can become a publisher and disseminate information and news, as well as comment at their fingertips.
While social media has been great for things like free speech and the ability to communicate no matter your location or the time of day, it also allows people to use these platforms for malicious purposes in defaming an individual or company. It has also resulted in the rise of things like doxxing, which we have previously spoken about.
The ability to remain anonymous online and publish on a worldwide scale causes considerable issues for existing defamation laws, which has prompted the need for reform.
The reform process started last year with the NSW Department of Justice completing a statutory review of the current Act. This review was then tabled in Parliament in June 2018 and referred to the Council of Attorneys-General.
Attorneys-General from all Australian jurisdictions are now working together to formulate new Model Defamation Provisions that are fit for the ever-changing digital age. Changes to the defamation laws in each state and territory are due to come into effect in the middle of 2020 – so watch this space!
If you believe that you or someone you know has been defamed on social media, give us a call on 02 9687 9322 to have a confidential discussion with an experienced member of our firm.