Submission on the Online Safety Legislative Reform: Discussion Paper

Scarlet Alliance submission on the Online Safety Legislative Reform: Discussion Paper on September 18, 2020.

“The advent of the internet and online services, such as Craigslist, Backpage, Twitter, social platforms and other website production platforms, have resulted in sex workers using these technologies to gain greater control over our work environment, increase safety, build sex worker communities, market our businesses and services, and share vital information with each other. Online sex worker only spaces provide a critical safe space for sex worker to share experiences, list bad clients, share sexual health and safety information, and organise around our rights. The internet has proven to be a powerful tool for sex workers to gain autonomy, financial security, and safety.

Sex workers rely on using trusted, well-known online platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to name a few, to connect with other sex workers and easily share and find a broad range of sex work specific information. The current targeted discrimination against sex workers in the guise of ‘upholding community guidelines’ or preventing ‘illegal or harmful content’ via increasingly narrow Terms of Use agreements have directly negatively impacted our ability to use these technologies to increase our safety and build community.

Scarlet Alliance is deeply concerned that the provisions proposed in the Online Safety Legislative Reform: Discussion Paper (hereafter referred to as the ‘Discussion Paper’) do not consider the current online discrimination experienced by sex workers. We are also deeply concerned many of the proposals listed in the Discussion Paper will exacerbate the existing banning, shadowbanning and invisiblising of sex workers from online spaces. For these reasons, we assert that further consultation with sex workers is needed before implementing many of the provisions stated in the Discussion Paper.”