Australia tells dating apps to improve safety standards to protect users


Australia’s government has stated that the online dating industry must improve safety standards or be forced to make changes through legislation in response to research that indicates three out of four Australian users experience some form of sexual violence through the platforms. Communications Minister Michelle Rowland said popular dating companies such as Tinder, Bumble and Hinge have until June 30 to develop a voluntary code of conduct that addresses user safety concerns.
The code could include improving engagement with law enforcement, supporting at-risk users, improving safety policies and practices, and providing greater transparency about harms, she said. But, Rowland added, if the safety standards are not sufficiently improved, the government will use regulation and legislation to force change. “What we want to do in this sector is not stifle innovation, but balance the harms, “she told reporters.
The government is responding to Australian Institute of Criminology research published last year that found three-in-four users of dating apps or websites had experienced some form of sexual violence through these platforms in the five years through 2021.
“Online dating is actually the most popular way for Australians to meet new people and to form new relationships,” Rowland said.
“The government is concerned about rates of sexual harassment, abusive and threatening language and violence facilitated by these platforms,” she added.
The Australian Information Industry Association, which represents the information and technology industry in Australia but not the online dating sector, welcomed the government’s approach as “very measured.”