Australian Government welcomes new industry code for search engines

The Minister for Communications has welcomed the eSafety Commissioner’s registration of a new industry code of practice to tackle seriously harmful online content.

The new Search Engine Services Code includes mandatory requirements to reduce the risk that illegal online content such as terrorism or child abuse material will be returned to Australians via search results. The new Code will apply to search engines including Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo and Yahoo.

Search engines are the ‘gateway to the internet’ for many Australians so this is a significant development in the implementation of the Online Safety Act 2021. The code will come into effect six months following registration and brings the number of completed industry codes governing the digital industry to six.

The new code of practice follows a request from the eSafety Commissioner to the online search engine services industry earlier in the year to revise their draft code to ensure greater protections against risks posed by generative AI.  

Five industry codes were registered in June this year and outline steps the online industry must take to limit access or exposure to, and distribution and storage of, seriously harmful material.

The eSafety Commissioner will continue to progress work on developing industry standards for two codes that did not provide appropriate community safeguards. The registration of industry codes and standards are independent regulatory decisions taken by the eSafety Commissioner.

To learn more about the industry codes, visit

Quotes attributable to Minister for Communications, the Hon Michelle Rowland MP:

“I am pleased to see that further work by the online industry and the eSafety Commissioner has resulted in another code of practice to help keep Australians safe.

“Keeping Australians safe online is a shared goal across government, industry, civil society groups and the community.

“It’s good to see industry taking responsibility with strong codes that meet their obligations under the law.”