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As part of a pre-election pitch about protecting Australians online, the federal government wants to make it easier to reveal the identity of people behind anonymous online accounts so they can be sued for defamation. 

A draft of the bill will be released later this week, but the gist of it is that it will force social media companies to obtain the names and contact details of their Australian users or be held liable for comments made on their platform. 

There’s scant evidence to suggest that forcing users to submit identification will have a noticeable effect on online abuse. In a roundtable convened by Twitter Australia last month, public policy director Kara Hinesley cited the insufficient evidence a 2004 Korean law that collected users' ID decreased hateful comments, defamation or online policy, Guardian Australia reports. (The proposal is so common that it has a name: the white man’s gambit.)