Australia asks dating app administrators to improve safety measures against sexual violence

Australia asks dating app administrators to improve safety measures against sexual violence

Canberra, Australia — The Australian government said Monday that the dating app industry must improve its security measures or be forced to do so through law, in response to a report that found three in four Australian users suffer from some form of sexual violence across platforms.

The Minister of Communications, Michelle Rowlandsaid that popular dating companies like Tinder, bumble and Hinge They have until June 30 to develop a voluntary code of conduct that addresses user safety concerns.

The code could include improvements in interaction with law enforcement, support for at-risk users, improvements in security policies and practices, and offering more transparency about risks, he said.

However, Rowland added that if safety standards are not sufficiently improved, the government will use regulation and legislation to impose changes.

“What we want to do in this sector is not to stifle innovation, but to balance the risks”he told the press.

Research from the Australian Institute of Criminology published last year found that three in four users of dating sites or apps had experienced some form of sexual violence on these platforms in the five years to 2021.

“Online dating is actually the most popular way for Australians to meet new people and form new relationships”Rowland said.

“The government is concerned about the rates of sexual harassment, abusive and threatening language, unsolicited sexual images and violence facilitated by these platforms,” the minister added.

The Australian Information Industry Association, which represents the information and communications technology sector in Australia but not dating services, praised the government’s strategy, saying it was “very restrained.”

“This is how the government should regulate technology,” said the association’s director general, Simon Bush. “Point out that there is a problem, bring the industry together and have them see if they can solve these problems first before they push the regulation button.”

Match Group, which owns and operates popular dating services such as Tinder, Hinge, Plenty of Fish and OK Cupid, said it will continue to work with regulators and partners, including the Queensland Police Service, Australia, and convergence group Australian Women’s Services Network, to combat gender violence and strengthen security on all platforms.

“Safety guides everything we do at Match Group and we share the Australian government’s commitment to strengthening safety for Australians,” Match Group said Tuesday in a statement.

“This is an important conversation that should not be limited to a single industry, but expanded to address these systemic issues occurring everywhere, from public roads to workplaces to social media platforms, ensuring a holistic approach to taking crackdown on abusers and bad actors”adds the statement.

Bumble declined to comment.

Kath Albury, online dating expert at the Swinburne University of Technologyin Melbourne, noted that among the improvements could be more clarity about the response time to a user who has reported threatening or unwanted contact.

“One of the things that worries app users is the feeling that complaints are left in a vacuum or there is a response that seems automated or impersonal at a time when they feel quite insecure or distressed”Albury explained.

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