It is disappointing to see that the Senate has approved proposals to establish a social media censorship regime. The Enhancing Online Safety for Children Bill 2014, which proposes to establish the Children’s e-Safety Commissioner, was passed with bipartisan support.
However, not all Coalition Senators supported the move without reservation. Senator Cory Bernardi (South Australia) made the point that the commissioner would become overwhelmed with frivolous complaints from “over-protective parents”. He also questioned the wisdom of this approach, saying:
Wrapping children in cotton wool created a much more fragile adult society, he told parliament on Wednesday.
“Ultimately, children need to be taught a bit of resilience in some ways,” Senator Bernardi said.
“There is not always going to be someone there to pick up the hurt feelings.”
Senator David Leyonhjelm (New South Wales) was the only Senator to oppose the bill.
A research paper from the IPA’s Chris Berg and Simon Breheny in August 2014 addressed the difficulties of the governments proposed scheme. It can be read here.
The Senate made two minor amendments to the bill, so it will return to the House of Representatives for a final vote in the coming days.
EDIT: Edited to clarify that Senator Bernardi did ultimately not oppose the bill, only voiced reservations. Senator Leyonhjelm was the only Senator to speak against the bill. You can watch it below.