Australia’s precious Federal Court resources have been tied up forcing Twitter to hand over identifying information for an accused anonymous online troll.

Today, as reported in the media, we learn that while Twitter has been forced to hand over some 500 Internet Protocol (IP) addresses for the alleged troll, Twitter didn’t bother to collect enough information to identify the user behind the anonymous account. The applicant was also reportedly forced to commence time consuming and costly proceedings against Twitter’s US and Irish head offices.  More of the Federal Court’s resources may now be used if Telstra, the Internet Service Provider behind the account, refuses to hand over identifying details linked to these IP addresses.

While in Opposition, Labor refused to support the Coalition’s Social Media (Anti-Trolling) Bill, which would have made it easier for victims of online trolling to ‘unmask’ the originators of anonymous defamatory posts made on social media.

Now in Government, Labor has no plan.

Defamatory posts on social media can spread virally. Posts are often made anonymously, which makes it challenging to pursue defamation proceedings against the perpetrator, especially for ordinary Australians. I know this because I, too, am the victim of systemic, abusive online trolling which Twitter refuses to do anything about, even after Victoria Police served Twitter with a police search warrant demanding the details of my alleged abuser.

I have three questions for Labor:

  1. Will you force big tech to identify anonymous online trolls?
  2. Will you compel Twitter to hand over the details of my abuser?
  3. Why don’t you have a plan to protect Australians from online trolls?

22 June 2022