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Oz lawmakers mull Facebook parental snoop rules

Could social networks go ‘R18+’?

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The big story about the meeting of Australian attorneys-general happening today (July 22) is that they’re going to reconsider Australia’s classification system, and might revisit the question of R18+ game classifications. However, it has emerged that the nation’s lawmakers will also consider the vexed question of privacy on social networks like Facebook.

The Australian quotes South Australian attorney-general John Rau as having two issues in mind: how social networks affect legal suppression orders, and whether or not parents should have access to their childrens’ social networking activity.

The issue of parental supervision has hit the headlines many times in Australia this year. While most “brocial” and “root-rating” networks are favoured by desperate and dateless 20-somethings, reports of similar networks among high school teens have become the stuff of tabloid frenzies.

With these issues in mind, the A-Gs are mulling whether or not Australia’s ill-defined rights to privacy should apply to under-18s. Commonwealth A-G Robert McClelland is also considering whether laws should be passed imposing a minimum sign-on age of 18, along with requiring proof-of-age to open social network accounts.

Proof-of-age would also satisfy independent senator Nick Xenophon’s long-held demand that social networking users be prevented from lying about their age, a tactic he says is favoured by pedophiles seeking to “groom” potential victims online. ®

Update: Any action is on hold for now, with the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General communique merely noting that social media suppression orders and Facebook privacy were "discussed" at the meeting.

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