Electronic Frontiers Australia is saddened to learn that Switter will be shut down in response to pressure from overzealous lawmakers trying to create a Children’s Internet. The site was originally set up in response to anti-sex work and anti-LGBTQIA+ recent legal challenges in the USA that drove already marginalised groups off mainstream platforms.

“We have been warning about these kinds of overbroad laws for decades,” said Justin Warren, Chair of EFA. “Lawmakers seem hell bent on creating a hostile environment online for marginalised voices, while letting already powerful people accumulate even more power.”

EFA’s recent submission on the draft Basic Online Safety Expectations determination warned against the creation of a system that could be used for censorship and suppression of dissent, to silence critics of the powerful and drive already marginalised communities further from the mainstream in the name of making already powerful people feel safer. It appears these predictions were correct.

“Time and time again our technology and policy experts have warned of the negative consequences for minority voices online, only to be dismissed as snarky antagonists or weird cranks. It’s hard to continue to engage in good faith with policy-makers when they repeatedly ignore expert advice and the real-world results of their policies.”

EFA has noted the tendency for the government to push through legislation that ignores community concerns and its own track-record of failure. Instead of strong individual privacy protections, the government has instead repeatedly chosen increased surveillance and concentrated power in a few unelected positions. This government’s policies reinforce the power of incumbents while it simultaneously claims to be attempting to regulate them.

“I’m sure the regulators and politicians will claim their intent is good. That’s nice, but it’s not nearly enough.” said Warren. “The purpose of a system is what it does, and it’s time they took responsibility for the actual consequences of their actions.”

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