The minister said his response would be guided by the need to ensure responsibility, respect and trust proliferated in the online world.

“Australians should be able to control their online footprints and their personal data. They should be able to have a degree of trust and confidence in online news sources,” Mr Fifield said.

“But when these things don’t happen, we will look at the range of options available to support them [Australians].”

There is global recognition that the internet cannot be that other place where community standards and the rule of law do not apply.

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield

Mr Fifield also flagged concerns about the dominance of particular market players and publishers such as Google and Facebook, stating: “There are few examples in history where the dominance of single firms has been positive for society.”

The ACCC inquiry, commissioned by Prime Minister Scott Morrison late last year when he was still Treasurer, is examining the effects of digital search engines, social media and other digital content aggregation platforms on media and advertising markets.

It has been directed to pay special attention to the impact of digital platforms on news journalism.

Mr Fifield began the speech by recounting the first time he heard about the world wide web, courtesy of “a computer scientist friend in about 1993”, and thinking: “This thing will never take off.”

He said the internet was “no longer seen as an ungoverned space or a libertarian free-for-all”.

“It’s important to recognise what the internet is not: it’s not the wild west, where the rule of law and standards of decency shouldn’t apply, and it’s not a place where anything goes,” Mr Fifield said.




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