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Australia, as you may or may not be aware, has some of the most repressive censorship laws in the western world. We just happen to be fortunate that law enforcement, by and large, see enforcing our draconian legislation to be an utter waste of time and money. What is deeply concerning is the level of censorship is getting worse. Quickly.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has just released new rules for ‘age restricted internet and mobile content’ that will take effect on January 20th. To say that they are both onerous for all parties and highly intrusive is an understatement. Here’s the gist, in handy point-format:

  • “The new Restricted Access Systems Declaration places obligations on all content service providers to check that individuals accessing restricted content provided in Australia are at least 15 years of age for MA15+ content or 18 years of age for R18+ content. ” Note that they say provided, not hosted. Fortunately, they have no hope in hell of forcing content providers based offshore into complying. Less fortunately, Labour has a plan to counter this.
  • “Similar to previous obligations relating to stored content, the new rules provide that after receiving a complaint and investigating internet or mobile content, ACMA may require the content service provider to either remove the content or place the content behind specified access restrictions.”
  • “A prohibition on X18+ and RC content.” X18+ is the rating for porn, even straight up, heterosexual missionary sex.
  • “Providers of hosting services, live content services, link services and commercial content services to have in place access restrictions if providing R18+ and commercial MA15+ content”
  • An access control system must “limit access to the content through use of a PIN or some other means”
  • “The acces control system must make provision for the keeping of records to demonstrate how the age of the applicant has been verified in relation to each applicant who has been granted access to r18+ content.” These records must “be kept for two years starting on the day in which the record is made”.

Bad enough, right? Now go and combine this with the mandatory ISP filtering legislation federal Labour is itching to introduce, and the picture becomes bleak indeed, not to mention a colossal waste of time and money. If children need to be protected so badly from the dangers of the interweb, why don’t we just make it illegal for individuals under 15 to surf without parental supervision?

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Published in: on December 26, 2007 at 2:12 am  Comments (3)  
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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. And all this still leaves children open to the main danger – internet chatroom predators. In fact, by filtering and making the net seem “safer” for children, this will certainly decrease the amount of parental supervision. So I see this as a paedophile-friendly move by the government, as well as a massive step towards the kind of internet censorship we see in hardline dictatorship governments. 1 month in and I’m already regretting my vote.

  2. You’re dead right. The enemy here is not the internet – it’s parental complacency. As soon as you tell the parents that the net is now ‘clean’, they’re going to stop paying attention. And because it will be the government’s fault, not the parents, when the kid comes across something s/he shouldn’t, the restrictions can only get more onerous, not less. To relax restrictions would be seen as irresponsible. The soccer moms of Australia would howl. They’re already trying to paint those who oppose this level of censorship as supporters of child pornography.

    If it’s any consolation, a vote for the other side would have done about as much damage. Remember it was under the Liberals that the first half of this – enforced age restrictions – came about.

  3. Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.


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