Sydney universities launch database to tackle information disorder


Researchers from three Sydney universities in Australia have developed an online database to track policies and regulations from 50 countries dealing with misinformation, AI regulation, online harms, cybersecurity and digital identity.

The project led by Terry Flew, Professor of Digital Communication and Culture, Media and Communications at The University of Sydney, aims to combat misinformation, fake news and online disinformation.

The database named the ‘International Digital Policy Observatory’ (IDPO) is a comprehensive, open-source and freely accessible database to track developments in digital/internet regulation internationally.

READ: How information disorder heightens tension, confuses public during crisis

Academics and digital specialists from The University of Sydney, University of New South Wales (UNSW) and University of Technology Sydney (UTS) teamed up to produce the IDPO, a report stated.

It noted that the database, which was funded by the Australian Research Council through its Linkage Infrastructure Equipment and Facilities (ARC LIEF) programme, will assist academics, policymakers, regulators, the ICT industry and advocacy groups in staying ahead of global issues in the digital economy.

“With the internet increasingly monopolised by a small number of tech giants, governments and community organisations need information and resources that provide countervailing power. The IDPO is enabling infrastructure that policymakers and regulators can use to be aware of what is happening globally around key issues in the digital economy,” said Professor Flew.

The site will first provide comprehensive resources on misinformation, to coincide with the Draft Combatting Misinformation and Disinformation Bill before the Australian Federal parliament. Resources will subsequently be made available on AI regulation, online harms, cybersecurity and digital identity.

“Being able to show different understandings of these policies can give really interesting insights into policy making for different kinds of practitioners and could potentially enable people from very different fields to collaborate more effectively,” said Heather Ford, an Associate Professor of Digital and Social Media at the UTS.

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Nurudeen Akewushola is a fact-checker with FactCheckHub. He has authored several fact checks which have contributed to the fight against information disorder. You can reach him via [email protected] and @NurudeenAkewus1 via Twitter.


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