Feeds

Oz net filter jams up with smut, may be pulled out altogether

Online rules may be scrapped

Maximizing your infrastructure through virtualization

A former Australian regulator recently speculated that there may be changes in the works for Australia's smut regulation, suggesting that self-regulation may eventually follow. This is ahead of a review of the classification system that is being conducted by the Australian Law Review Commission (ALRC).

Does the future for the classification of Australian online content lie in a massive increase in self-regulation by the relevant industries? And how will this impact on the growing demand for the creation of an R18+ games rating?

A detailed analysis this week on Kotaku.com, an e-zine "for people who like to game", suggests that both are ideas whose time has come – but party politics may yet get in the way of what looks like a sensible and practical solution for all.

The two issues are closely linked: on the one hand is a sense that the current regulatory system is over-inclusive, cumbersome and increasingly not fit for purpose; on the other is the snowballing demand, by gamers and, according to polls, by the Australian public for an adult games rating.

According to the former Deputy Director of the Classification Board, Paul Hunt, “the entire [classification] system is out of date” and “[P]hysically it’s just impossible to classify everything in a traditional way."

Home Affairs Minister Brendan O’Connor echoed this last month when he said: "It has become increasingly clear that the system of classification in Australia needs to be modernised so it is able to accommodate developments in technology now and in the future."

The problem? At present, every item of online content – from iPhone Apps, to mobile games and other forms of content – must be reviewed and classified by the Classification Board. This is placing an increasing strain on the system, or, as Hunt put it: "I actually think it’s a waste of time to classify the amount the board are classifying now.

"Having a system where the industry has more regulatory control, with the government overseeing it, is a far more efficient model."

The review of the classification system by the ALRC is expected to report back in December 2011. Created in response to the explosion in new technology, the review has as one of its key objectives "minimising the regulatory burden" placed on the Classification Board.

For a Labor government that seems so very taken with the idea of micro-managing Australian access to the internet, such an approach might seem completely contradictory, but O’Connor declared himself tentatively in favour. He said: "I don’t want to jinx the findings of the Australian Law Review Commission, but that’s a path we may have to look at.

"I think there’ll probably have to be some sort of balance – there needs to be a complementary approach where we work together towards some sort of self regulation."

A solution to the second issue – the absence of an R18+ rating – is also long overdue.

This may, however, now be fixed by means of new guidelines, which are currently being drafted and are due to be presented to the next meeting of the Standing Committee of Attorneys General (SCAG) in March. Alternatively, the Attorneys General may simply decide to wait and see what the ALRC does, and wait until December before pronouncing on any new rating.

However, despite there being broad agreement between government, regulators and industry, the proposed new regime of self-regulation may not be implemented.

The opposition Liberal party is waiting in the wings while the current Labor government clings to a wafer-thin parliamentary majority. Although the Liberal Party have declared themselves opposed to Labor’s plans for an internet filter, they have also displayed more Luddite tendencies, including fierce opposition to the National Broadband Network (NBN), as well as a general inclination towards moral conservatism.

The NBN means more internet for all and almost certainly more internet smut for all: at which point the fear of many is that Australia’s Liberal party will display its slightly more illiberal colours – and come down hard against any regime – including self-regulation – that threatens to take the brakes off personal access to new technology. ®

Application security programs and practises

More from The Register

next story
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
MPs wave through Blighty's 'EMERGENCY' surveillance laws
Only 49 politcos voted against DRIP bill
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
EU's top data cops to meet Google, Microsoft et al over 'right to be forgotten'
Plan to hammer out 'coherent' guidelines. Good luck chaps!
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.