UK and Australian Governments Sign “world-first” Online Safety and Security Memorandum of Understanding

On 20 February 2024, the UK Government and the Australian Federal Government co-signed a historic Online Safety and Security Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signifying the bilateral cooperation between the two countries to help boost their respective online safety regimes. Notably, this is the first arrangement of its kind, with the MoU intending to encompass a wide range of digital online safety and security issues. These include illegal content, child safety, age assurance, technology facilitated gender-based violence, and addressing harms caused by rapidly evolving technologies, such as generative artificial intelligence.

Indeed, the MoU should help strengthen the existing regulatory regimes in both countries, including the recent enactment of the UK’s Online Safety Act 2023, and Australia’s Online Safety Act 2021, each of which seek to make the two countries the “safest places in the world to be online.”

The MoU outlines the key principles underscoring the approach of both countries and areas of increased collaboration, including the UK and Australia’s shared commitment to upholding and promoting human rights, fundamental freedoms, democracy and the rule of law (both online and offline) and a commitment to shared engagement to address safety challenges posed by design choices. The partnership is viewed as a significant step in shaping the international agenda and global consensus on tackling digital harms.

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