(Bloomberg) -- Australia’s government demanded online dating firms boost safety practices by mid-next year or face regulation, after research showed a spate of sexual violence against users of such platforms.

The government called Monday for a voluntary code from the industry that included commitments for better engagement with law enforcement, supporting at-risk users, stronger safety policies and greater transparency about harm. 

The move comes after Australian Institute of Criminology research, released in October last year, found three-in-four people using dating apps or websites experienced some form of sexual violence in the five years to 2021. This included sexual harassment, abusive or threatening language, image-based sexual abuse and stalking.

“Dating apps are now the most common way to meet a partner in Australia, yet the level of violence experienced by users of these platforms is deeply concerning,” Communications Minister Michelle Rowland said in a statement. “Online dating platforms must do their part to end violence against women.” 

If the voluntary code doesn’t sufficiently improve safety for users of online dating services, legislative options would be pursued, the government said.

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