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What transparency and accountability mean in practice

What Transparency and Accountability Mean in Practice
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© RMIT 2023

Principle 3: Transparency and Accountability

Transparency and accountability are hallmarks of a robust approach to safety. They not only provide assurances that platforms and services are operating according to their published safety objectives, but also help to educate and empower users about steps they can take to address safety concerns.

The publication of information relating to how companies are enforcing their own policies and data on the efficacy of safety features or innovations will allow accurate assessment of what is working. If interventions are improving safety outcomes for users or deterring online abuse, these innovations should be shared and more widely adopted.

To enhance user trust, awareness and understanding of the importance of user safety, here are some examples of steps eSafety recommends:

Embed safety

Embed user safety considerations, training and practices into the roles, functions and working practices of all individuals who work with, for, or on behalf of the product or service.

Good Practice Note icon LEGO has a three-pronged approach to child digital safety where: (1) all relevant employees and affiliates take a mandatory introductory digital child safety e-learning course; (2) LEGO delivers targeted in-depth training; and (3) LEGO conducts annual assessments of compliance with its Digital Child Safety Policy.

Accessibility and currency

Make sure that user safety policies, terms and conditions, community guidelines and processes about user safety are accessible, easy to find, regularly updated and easy to understand. Users should be periodically reminded of these policies and proactively notified of changes or updates through targeted in-service communications.

Good Practice Note icon Reddit conducted an experiment which highlighted that making policies visible to users can improve online behaviour. Reddit now makes its user agreement, privacy policy, content policy and moderator code of conduct available on its home page.

Engagement

Carry out open engagement with a wide user base, including experts and key stakeholders, on the development, interpretation and application of safety standards and their effectiveness or appropriateness.

Good Practice Note icon Roblox has a Trust and Safety Advisory Board comprised of four independent members of the digital safety community. Google convenes groups of independent experts to provide advice on contentious issues or to look at how to navigate pieces of legislation in order to balance the law against individual rights.

Publications

Openly publish information regarding online safety (such as an annual assessment of reported abuses on the service), meaningful analysis of metrics (such as abuse data and reports), and the effectiveness of moderation efforts.

Good Practice Note icon Meta publishes transparency reports as a commitment to a more open exchange of information. For example, Facebook (a Meta company) has published its Community Standards Enforcement Report.

Innovation and investment

Commit to consistently innovate and invest in safety-enhancing technologies on an ongoing basis. In addition, collaborate and share with others’ safety-enhancing tools, best practices, processes and technologies.

Good Practice Note icon A number of major industry players are part of consortiums and initiatives to better protect children online, such as WePROTECT Global Alliance, Child Dignity Alliance

(Source: Adapted from eSafety Commissioner 2019, Safety by Design Overview, May 2019, pp. 20-27)

© RMIT 2023
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