Online Code of Conduct

Online Code of Conduct

Overview

In 2012, the UNHCR declared that our online human rights are no different to our offline human rights. Yet – almost ten years on – many Australians are still unaware that they have online human rights, or how to ensure they are protected. 

In the rapidly evolving realm of the Internet and social media – which we rely on to conduct our lives on a daily basis – navigating online human rights and ensuring they are protected can be challenging. 

That’s why we, at JustSociale, are developing Australia’s first Online Code of Conduct, with a focus on collective action amongst all stakeholders with an interest in Internet governance.

Why an Online Code of Conduct?

 

  • The purpose of this Code is to improve Internet governance and innovation outcomes, and increase trust by enhancing the transparency, accountability and effectiveness of the Code’s signatories.
  • The JustSociale Code of Conduct is a voluntary, self-regulatory code of good practice. 
  • For those who are exposed to online harm – whether that be harassment, abuse, trolling, being approached by fake personas or accounts, or exposed to sensitive content – we do not believe that leaving or bolstering fear or distrust of tech platforms or apps is the answer. Rather, we believe in diplomatically engaging with platforms, people who have experienced online harm, government, law enforcement, and other key bodies with an interest in Internet governance, to develop progressive policies that keep up with the rapidly evolving online realm and to prevent future online harm from occurring. 
  • Everyone should feel free and safe online, and it is only through working collectively that we believe this can be achieved sustainably.

Who is this Online Code of Conduct for?

Our Online Code of Conduct is for all Australians with an interest in Internet governance. This includes tech platforms, government, non-profit organisations and charities, creatives, media outlets, communications agencies, law enforcement, academics, AI experts, tech developers and members of diverse, regional and remote communities and any individual who uses the Internet in some way. All are invited to become signatories to this collective Code of Conduct and show their commitment to the human rights of Australians online.

What does signing up to the Code entail?

The Code of Conduct provides guidelines for all signatories to hold themselves accountable to, in the effort to achieve and model the highest standards of good online behaviour and actions possible. These include:

 

Objectives 

  • To promote the human rights of all Australians online.
  • To enable high standards of practice by JustSociale’s members. 
  • To provide assurance to all signatories, and JustSociale’s national Alliance members (who may also become signatories).  
  • To enable self-regulation and influence external regulation of the sector. 
  • To champion standards of good practice for a broad range of stakeholders, including JustSociale’s Alliance members, other organisations or bodies involved in Internet governance and online innovation, and the Australian public. 

 

Values 

The Code is underpinned by a set of core values that will inform the behaviours of all signatories all of the time. These values are:

 

  • Integrity 
  • Accountability 
  • Transparency 
  • Respect 
  • Innovation 
  • Inclusion 
  • Collective Action

 

Quality Principles and Commitments

The Code also sets out a list of quality principles and commitments that its signatories will commit to strive to adhere to. These are: 

    • Human rights, Protection & Inclusion 
    • Participation, Empowerment and Local Ownership 
    • Sustainable Change 
  • Quality and Effectiveness 

Broadly speaking, all online platforms do not tolerate depictions of violence, aggression, or content that may be designed to incite violence, aggression or terrorism. 

Similarly, all online platforms do not tolerate depictions of nudity or pornography, which includes the display of nipples, except in some contexts, such as if a woman portrays a photo of herself breastfeeding in a forum for mothers. Or, content shows an artwork or sculpture depicting nudity is generally considered to be acceptable, but we encourage you to check the guidelines of the platforms you use before posting any type of nude imagery. 

Sharing nude photos of another person without their permission or consent is a criminal offence in Australia, and this includes the online distribution or the showing of intimate imagery of a former partner or spouse on your technology device, which is also termed ‘revenge porn’. 

Both distributing and accessing child pornography are also a criminal offence. 

With regards to nudity, we have included links to the policies of the major technology platforms for you below: 

Furthermore, all online platforms do not tolerate depictions of self harm, suicide, or content that may glorify self harm or suicide. This also extends to content that glorifies eating disorders. 

However, each platform does frame its guidelines around what imagery is permitted in a different way. To view the guidelines for each platform below, see here: 

What makes this Online Code of Conduct different?

The Code is the first of its kind in Australia to encourage all stakeholders – from a diverse range of sectors and communities – working in the realm of Internet governance to ensure their work respects people’s online human rights. 

It is self‐regulatory, and is being developed in conjunction with stakeholders working in the Internet governance, digital innovation and social media management sectors. This means that the responsibility for compliance with the Code rests primarily with JustSociale’s Code signatories who will self-assess against a set of Compliance Indicators.

What are the incentives to sign the Code?

  • By becoming a signatory to JustSociale’s Code, you  will be demonstrating to the public, your customers, clients or beneficiaries that you take online human rights and your responsibility to act as a good digital citizen seriously. 
  • You will receive a certification badge to demonstrate that you are a signatory to the Code for your website & other official communications materials. 
  • You will be listed on both JustSociale’s website, and on the eSafety Commissioner’s website as a signatory of the Code. 

How can I contribute to its development?

Anyone can contribute to the development of the Code, by reading the full document available on this page, and then outlining if and where they think the Code could be further enhanced or amended. 

Once contributions have been made by the deadline of December 31, 2020, JustSociale’s Board will review all contributions, along with human rights lawyers & the eSafety commissioner), and decide on the first official version of the Code, which will remain a living document that will be regularly updated and reviewed in order to stay up to date with rapidly evolving online realm. Those who have contributed to its development will be thanked on our website, unless they wish to remain anonymous.

How can I become a signatory?

The Code is owned by JustSociale and JustSociale’s Board has autonomy in decision-making in regard to determining the status of JustSociale’s Code signatories, who may apply directly via the contact form on this page. That said, the Code seeks to be representative of diverse stakeholders and members of the public, and reflect the collective interests and voices of all those who engage with the Internet. 

Signatories to the Code are asked to agree to a set of compliance mechanisms, which are detailed in the full draft of the Code of Conduct document.

Particularly during these current times, when we are relying on connecting online more than ever – including emails, online meetings and social networking – there is research to suggest that staring at a screen for extended periods of time can deplete our energy, which can then impact our mental wellness. This is why we encourage people to set aside time to do other activities – such as socialising with friends, enjoying a creative pursuit, reading, exercising, getting the right amount of sleep, eating well and ‘unplugging’ from devices on a regular basis. 

 

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