Australia

Expert Voices

How global efforts to limit disinformation could infringe speech

man in a suit pointing at a computer whose monitor is glowing red
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

The U.K. announced last Monday a sweeping plan to prevent the spread of harmful online content — part of a global trend of new content regulations targeting material designed to polarize and mislead.

The big picture: The British proposal, which comes on the heels of new measures in Australia and Singapore, would create a regulator empowered to punish social media platforms that fail to quickly remove harmful material, including disinformation. But these approaches — which focus on content rather than problematic behavior — have concerning implications for free expression.

Australia's election: 5-week sprint for the top job

Blue skies ahead? Opposition leader Bill Shorten addresses the media from a backyard in Melbourne. Photo: Vince Caligiuri/Getty Images

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, of the conservative Liberal Party, has called a general election for May 18. He'll face off against Bill Shorten of the opposition Labor Party.

Where things stand: Morrison starts a few points back in the polls. His pitch to voters is that Labor would endanger strong economic growth. Whoever wins might not last long. Australia has had a revolving door of prime ministers in recent years — Morrison is the 5th since 2013.