Many people are concerned about children encountering inappropriate Relevant or important. For example, material evidence is something that helps to prove an argument in a criminal case. on the internet. This section outlines how internet material is regulated in Australia, how children can be kept safe, and where to find more information.
Australia’s internet content regulation scheme
Australia’s scheme for regulating internet content is administered by the federal government. It is co-regulatory, meaning that the internet industry and the community are also involved. The scheme is guided by industry practicalities and the principle that what is restricted offline should also be restricted online.
Internet content is regulated by a public complaints procedure, laws, and industry codes of practice.
What material can be complained about?
Anyone can complain about internet content they feel is objectionable. The specific procedure and solutions vary, depending on the nature and source of the material. For more information, contact ACMA (www.acma.gov.au) or the Australian eSafety Commissioner (www.esafety.gov.au).
Internet content is classified using the same categories as used for films and computer games, as follows.
RC (Refused Classification) content cannot be legally hosted on an internet site in Australia, just as a RC film cannot legally be brought into the country. Material is refused classification if it is Treated by the law as if something is the case, even if that is not the reality. For example, children may be deemed to have the same home as their parents, whether they actually live there or not. Or a person may be deemed to have given their consent to something if they hear about it and do not object. Compare rebuttable. to deal with sensitive topics like sex, drug misuse, crime and violence in a way that offends against the standards of reasonable adults, or offensively depicts a person who is or appears to be under 16.
X-rated material (i.e. depictions of actual sexual activity) is also prohibited on the internet, as are X-rated films in most states (except the A written law made by parliament. Also called an ‘Act of parliament’, ‘statute’ or legislation. and the Northern Territory). Content that contains real depictions of actual sexual activity between consenting adults, and is classified as unsuitable for a In Victoria, a child or young person under 18. See also infant. to see – and does not fall into the RC category – is classified X. However, some films can be exempt from classification; for example, if they are screened at a particular film festival, or made for scientific purposes. Other types of content may only be illegal if children can easily get access to them.
R content is material that is not RC or X but is unsuitable for a minor to see. Accordingly, there must be a restricted access system to prevent access to the content by people under 18. If there is not, this material can also be the subject of a complaint.
The Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 (Cth) was amended in 2012, bringing the classification system for computer games into line with the existing system for films and online content, and with international standards. The new classification was introduced on 1 January 2013 and allows adult computer gamers in Australia to access the full range of games with adult content.
Illegal and offensive online content is regulated by the Online Content Scheme under schedules 5 and 7 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (Cth) through a complaints-based mechanism. The restrictions focus primarily on child pornography, sexual violence and other illegal activities.
Under the current National Classification Scheme, RC-rated material includes any material that depicts child sex abuse, bestiality, sexual violence and the detailed instruction of crime.
ISPs and ICHs that become aware their Formal delivery of legal documents to a person to tell them there are court proceedings against them which they must defend, or to make sure a witness in a case knows when they have to go to court to give evidence. can be used to access child pornography or material related to child abuse must refer the material to the Australian Federal Police.
It is illegal under the National Classification Scheme and related Statutory rules made by parliament or by bodies the parliament delegates power to, for example a local council or a registration authority. See delegated legislation; statute. to distribute, sell or make available for (1) An agreement to pay for the temporary use of something, for example a car. Also called renting or leasing. (2) To employ someone to do work. RC-rated films, computer games and publications.
However, such measures are only effective when content is hosted in Australia.
In relation to content hosted overseas that would be prohibited if it was classified in Australia, ISPs have a responsibility to follow the procedures set out in an industry Guidelines setting out proper practice in an industry or occupation. For example, the franchising code of practice sets out rules for businesses operating under a franchise. Codes can be voluntary or statutory (required by legislation). (or in the absence of a code, an industry standard). This could involve blocking access or providing a notification system.
Where to complain
Since July 2015, complaints about objectionable internet content can be made to the Australian eSafety Commissioner (see ‘Contacts’ at the end of this chapter) (formerly complaints were made to ACMA). The Australian eSafety Commissioner is an independent Found in a statute of delegated legislation. For example, a statutory authority or body is aperson or organisation that has special powers given by parliament to do work for the public benefit. office created by the Enhancing Online Safety Act 2015 (Cth) (‘EOS Act’).
Under the EOSC Act, the commissioner administers the Online Content Scheme and also has the power to investigate serious cyber-bullying material aimed at a child.
What happens to complaints?
If the content is hosted in Australia and is prohibited or likely to be prohibited, the ICH is directed to remove the content from their service. Prohibited content is content that is or would be classified RC or X. In serious cases (e.g. involving child pornography), state or territory police are notified.
If the illegal content is hosted outside Australia, the Australian Federal Police are notified by Interpol. All overseas-hosted content that is prohibited or potentially prohibited that is investigated, is referred to accredited providers of optional end-user (PC-based) family friendly filters in accordance with the industry codes of practice.
What else can be done?
Besides the complaints system, the shared effort to regulate internet content includes Codes of Practice developed by the Internet Industry Association (now managed by the Communications Alliance, see ‘More information’, below). While the codes are largely Done by your own free will. See also community treatment order (CTO). and self-regulated, ISPs and ICHs can be directed to comply with their responsibilities under the codes. Other information and advice sites are listed under ‘More information’, below.
Filters, labels and safe zones
Email and internet content provided in real-time (e.g. chat rooms, live audio or video streaming) are not generally covered by the classification procedures or the industry codes (Victoria is a partial exception, with racially or religiously vilifying email being illegal).
Filters are programs that in some way block access to inappropriate material from websites, newsgroups, chat rooms and email. Filters can also restrict the results from search engines.
Labelling tools help filters by creating lists of sites. ‘Black’ lists use the names of sites with offensive content to block access to them. ‘White’ lists block everything except inoffensive sites. Content-based filters block access to sites based on key offensive words or on some photographic content that might be unsuitable for children. The different types of filter can be used in combination, depending on what is required.
Filter programs can operate on a home computer or via an ISP. Your ISP is obliged to provide information about filtering software and the filters they The first step in agreeing to make a legally binding agreement. An offer must be accepted before there can be a legally enforceable contract. For example, a person can offer to sell their car for $5000 and a buyer can accept the offer and pay that purchase price.. ISPs must provide a filter approved in the Internet Industry Association Codes of Practice. The NetAlert, Communications Association and Internet Content Rating Association sites give more background information (see ‘More information’, below).
Safe zones are networks suitable for young children and are separated from the rest of the internet. They are available via subscription or through some ISPs. Specific children’s zones may also be hosted on commercial sites or supported by advertising.
It is important to remember that no tool is completely infallible. Under the Australian Consumer Law, a person who buys goods or services for less than $40 000 or for personal or home use. advice websites can help parents and guardians to choose the best strategy (see ‘More information’, below).
Chat rooms are places where real-time written conversations take place. They are usually public, although private chat rooms are offered on some sites. Most people, including children, use pseudonyms in chat rooms so that a person’s real identity is not apparent. This means that sometimes a child may believe they are chatting to another 12-year-old, when it may in fact be a much older person. There have been instances where adults have attempted to exploit children by contacting them in chat rooms.
The current regulatory approach emphasises education and guided information for children. It is important that children know what personal details they can give out when they are online, for their safety and for the Money or property promised to be handed over as a guarantee for repayment of a loan, or as a guarantee that a defendant will meet their bail conditions. of the household as a whole. For useful websites, see ‘More information’, below.