People looking for love online may soon need background checks as the federal government looks into ways to eliminate sexual violence among people who meet on dating apps.
A meeting on Wednesday between dating app companies, government representatives and the police was described as “an important first step” in increasing online protections.
Federal Communications Minister Michelle Rowland said there was a discussion about the need for background checks for dating app users.
But he warned that law and policy changes could not be made overnight or without proper consultation.
“None of us underestimate the complex issues surrounding privacy, user security, data collection and management … there is no law that will solve this problem,” Ms Rowland told reporters in Sydney.
“Many cases of abuse are perpetrated by people with no criminal record or conviction…which is why the debate also focused on what could be done to encourage respectful interactions online.”
Dating app companies, government representatives and police met Wednesday to discuss how to make online dating safer
Following the meeting, federal, state and territory attorneys-general will be asked to consider criminal justice responses to online violence and abuse as a matter of priority.
Dating app companies were also put on notice and Ms Rowland said there was room for improvement in how user complaints were handled.
“We need the industry to improve their action, their transparency and their accountability in how they respond to consumer complaints,” he said.
Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth, who attended the meeting, said there was no “silver bullet” to solve sexual violence.
While people with lived experience must have a voice in reform, Ms Rishworth said they should not be solely responsible for their safety.
“There needs to be a proactive response, where perpetrators and perpetrators of abuse are held accountable,” Rishworth said.
“That it is their behavior that is being addressed and punished, not the focus on the survivors of the victims.”
Sexual violence includes online abuse, such as revenge porn, sexual harassment, abusive language, threats, and controlling behavior.
The meeting heard that one in three people experienced sexual violence from someone they met online, including sexual assault, coercion and revenge porn.
Cybersecurity Commissioner Julie Inman Grant said dating apps needed to take more responsibility for cracking down on bad behaviour.
One in three people told the Australian Institute of Criminology that they had been subjected to sexual violence by someone they met on a dating app, including sexual assault or coercion and revenge porn.
A woman dies at the hands of her partner every 10 days in Australia.
Opposition Deputy Leader Sussan Ley said technology could be a power for good and many people were happy after meeting partners online, but there were too many horror stories of women using dating apps.
Dating app Bumble Australia and Tinder’s parent company Match Group welcomed the opportunity to discuss online dating safety measures with policymakers.
“We know that domestic and sexual violence is a huge problem not only in Australia, but around the world, and that women, members of the LGBQTIA+ communities and First Nations are most at risk,” said a spokesperson for Bumble Australia.
Users of dating apps in the US can now check partners’ background with a representative of Tinder and Bumble’s parenting group saying it would adopt a similar system for Australian users if a public crime database was available .
Online daters in the US can now check whether their potential partner has a history of violent or sexual offenses by using a third-party database search.
Match Group Chief Commercial Affairs and Legal Officer Jared Sine said the company would look to implement a similar system for Australian systems if a similar public database was available.
“We would like to partner with third parties that can host that data. Ultimately, we don’t want the data, but we would work with the parties to try to do exactly what we’ve done in the United States,” he said. Daily Telegraph.
The company already bans abusers and harassers from the platform, including taking action against members for unacceptable behavior on other dating apps.
A spokesman for Match Group said the safety of its members was paramount.
“We stay focused on building security in everything we do, from leveraging technology to investing in moderation tools and machine learning to partnering with leading security experts and building innovative in-app security features “, said.
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