Australian politics live blog: Legislation on Afterpay, deepfake porn being introduced

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Due to new consumer protection laws, buy-now and pay-later services such as Afterpay and Zip must carry out stricter credit checks on new customers and impose credit limits on certain users.

Financial Services Minister Stephen Jones introduced a bill in Parliament on Wednesday that would classify “Buy Now, Pay Later” (BNPL) products as credit products.

He told Parliament that BNPL gives Australians access to cheaper credit, but it can also lead to financial harm, citing a study in which 73 percent of financial advisers said users had cut back on purchases of essential goods to pay off their BNPL debt.

According to a Finder survey in March, about 40 percent of Australians have used a BNPL service in the past six months.

Under current rules, proof of income is not required to use the service. Stricter regulations would change this.

“We want to ensure that the consumer protections we believe are necessary for credit products also apply to the buy-now-pay-later sector and if we enact these new laws, that is exactly what will happen,” Jones previously told ABC.

“This will ensure that we maintain the great innovation and competition that the buy-now-pay-later sector has brought to the credit markets, but at the same time the same consumer protections will remain in place.”

Next step for deepfake laws

Australians could face up to six years in prison for sharing sexually explicit images generated using artificial intelligence as part of efforts to curb the rise in violence against women.

Attorney General Mark Dreyfus introduced a new law on Wednesday that criminalizes the creation and distribution of deepfakes.

Under the strict new laws, designed specifically to protect people over 18, offenders face up to six years in prison.

According to an RMIT survey conducted last year, the victim rate of involuntary sharing of deepfake pornography in Australia (3.7 percent) is far higher than the global average (2.2 percent).

Mr Dreyfus had previously told ABC that there were already provisions in the Criminal Code covering the distribution of child abuse material.

“We will impose very severe penalties. The maximum penalty for distribution is six years, and for serious crimes it is seven years. And that is if you both created the material and distributed it,” he said.

“But because the Commonwealth’s jurisdiction is limited to the activity of sharing, we may have to wait for the States to catch up and criminalise the activity of creating.”

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