Dating apps have been told to prioritize safety over swiping
One option being considered is to introduce industry goals to keep users safe, without clearly outlining what steps apps should take.
A mandatory code of conduct can be introduced even if companies refuse to act in good faith.
“Apps have been left in no doubt that if these standards that we expect as a government are not met, we have regulatory and legislative tools at our disposal,” Communications Minister Michelle Rowland told AAP.
Ms Rowland held a dating app safety roundtable meeting with state and territory ministers, industry representatives and anti-violence advocates in Sydney on Wednesday.
Since then, he has referred the findings and areas of focus to state and federal attorneys general.
The minister said that while the first lawyers were free to develop their own policies and try new ways to reduce sexual violence, a consistent approach at the national level was ideal given the ubiquity of online dating.
Advocates and law enforcement have discussed security measures, such as background checks, but there have also been concerns about unintended consequences.
There is a fear that the requirements could harm the people they protect.
Requiring identification may affect those who do not want to opt out of same-sex or gender-based dating apps, while people with disabilities, such as those in wheelchairs, do not want to be advertised to.
“These people are already very marginalized,” Ms Rowland said.
The minister expressed concern about background checks giving a false sense of security, as someone may not have a previous criminal conviction.
There have also been concerns that such a measure would put the burden of pursuing background checks on potential victims.
Tinder is open to introducing background checks that could reveal users with violent or sexual crime convictions or on the sex offender registry.
The US version of the Tinder app allows users to run a third-party background check on a person’s name and phone number.
But Ms Rowland said Australian governments should also consider suspicions of online information sharing after high-profile data breaches.
Dating app companies have expressed their willingness to implement the new regulations, saying that while they welcome the additional measures, they don’t want to keep tracking data they don’t have to.
Ms Rowland is open to embedding sex education resources into dating apps and is looking at ways to prevent complaints about dating apps from being treated as a ‘tick and flick’ exercise.
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