Aust Govt, industry welcome new online code of practice

The Communications minister has signaled the government’s support for the Content Services Code, an Internet Industry Association code of practice for providers of online and mobile phone content.The legislation establishes a framework for the regulation of content services, such as Internet streaming and 3G mobile services, to provide protection to children from exposure to unsuitable content and ensure content providers adhere to requirements of the new code.;1062673670;1062673670;1062673670More stringent mobiles, internet rules [AAP]
The communications watchdog has approved a new code of practice for online and mobile service content providers, with a focus on protecting children. approves industry code of practice to protect children from unsuitable online and mobile phone content [news release]
The Australian Communications and Media Authority has approved the Content Services Code, an industry code of practice for providers of online and mobile phone content developed by the Internet Industry Association (IIA).’The code is the result of collaboration across a wide cross-section of industry and ACMA is encouraged by the code’s recognition that content regulation must be approached from the perspective of convergence between the two major platforms for delivery of online content, the internet and mobile phones,’ said Chris Chapman, ACMA Chairman.The code says that all content likely to be MA15+ or above must be assessed and classified by trained content assessors, hired by providers of online and mobile content. By requiring content classification assessment, this code assists both children and their parents to make informed choices about what is, or is not, suitable for viewing online or on mobile phones.The code also includes best practice guidance for providers and hosts of content on how to manage and respond to customer complaints and contains information about online safety and the risks around the use of chat services for consumers.The code will form part of new rules, introduced in legislation last year, that establish a regulatory framework for all content delivered online and via mobile phones. The new regulatory framework introduces measures to protect the safety of children when using online and mobile content services.The code is consistent with the emerging global approach to online and mobile content regulation as exemplified in similar guidance for interactive content services prepared by an international task force that included ACMA. The guidance was released in the UK earlier this year.A copy of the code can be found on the ACMA website.Media contact: Donald Robertson, ACMA Media Manager, on (02) 9334 7980.BackgrounderA new Schedule 7 to the Broadcasting Act 1992 came into force on 20 January 2008, with the purpose of regulating all content services delivered via carriage services, including online and mobile content.Schedule 7 also replaces interim content arrangements that applied to providers of mobile content under the Telecommunications Service Provider (Mobile Premium Services) Determination 2005 (No 1) (MPS Determination).The main elements of the new content regulatory framework introduced by Schedule 7 are:

  • a prohibition on X18+ and RC content;
  • a prohibition on R18+ content, unless it is subject to appropriate access restrictions;
  • a new prohibition on commercial MA15+ content, unless it is subject to appropriate access restrictions;
  • providers of hosting services, live content services, link services and commercial content services to have in place access restrictions if providing R18+ and MA15+ content;
  • ‘take down’ or ‘access removal’ notices to remove access to content that is the subject of a complaint; and
  • a co-regulatory approach that provides for the development of an industry code to address issues including the classification of content, procedures for handling complaints about content and increasing awareness of potential safety issues associated with the use of content services.

Many of these obligations transition from Schedule 5 to the BSA, which previously applied to both internet service providers and ‘internet content hosts’.The new Schedule 7 applies obligations, regardless of the platform for delivery, equally to both providers of online and mobile phone content.Schedule 7 also requires that an industry code be developed. The Internet Industry Association undertook this task and released a draft version of this code for public consultation on 15 April 2008.

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