"...Proposed new Part 7A constitutes a significant change to the Act. It would insert into the Act the model on-line content regulation provisions devised at national level to complement the 1999 amendments to the Commonwealth Broadcasting Services Act 1992, dealing with on-line services.
The aim of these provisions is to deter or punish the making available on the internet of material which is offensive, or which is unsuitable for children. That is, they aim to make it illegal to make available online matter which would be illegal if left in a public place offline. What is offensive or unsuitable is determined by reference to the existing national classification Code and guidelines for films and computer games.
The provisions speak of 'objectionable matter', which is internet content consisting of a film or computer game which is or would be classified X or RC. This could include, for example, sexually explicit material, child pornography, or material instructing in crime or inciting criminal acts. This must not be made available or supplied over the internet. They also speak of 'matter unsuitable for minors', that is, material which does not fall into the X or RC category but is nevertheless appropriate to be legally restricted to adults and is or would be classified R. In the case of the former, the material must not be made available or supplied at all. In the case of the latter, the material may be made available or supplied only if protected by an approved restricted access system, that is, a system which restricts who may access the material, for example by means of a password or personal identification number. ..."
Full text of speech available by searching for "classification" in year 2000 at:
then select date 8 November."
'Wednesday November 8, 2000
NEW LAWS TIGHTEN OFFENSIVE MATERIAL ON THE INTERNET
New laws to be introduced to State Parliament today are aimed at making it illegal to make offensive material available on the internet and strengthening the existing classification system for films, publications and computer games.
Attorney-General Trevor Griffin will today introduce new laws to enhance the system of classifications, with new enforcement measures, including internet content laws.
Mr Griffin says the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games)(Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill makes a number of changes to the Act to improve the enforcement of offences relating to the classification of publications, films and computer games, and will create new offences dealing with internet content.
"Many distributors and sellers of classifiable items are taking a responsible approach to their legal obligation, but there are some who are persistently failing to comply with the law. The new enforcement measures will help to ensure compliance with the Act," Mr Griffin says.
Under the Bill, new enforcement provisions will reduce costs and delays in the prosecution process by allowing defendants to admit the classification of an item without the need for the expensive formal classification process. The Bill will also provide for forfeiture of seized items, where a person is convicted of certain offences. It will now also be possible for police to issue on the spot expiation notices to deal with minor breaches of the Act.
"The Bill also puts in place measures to deal with offensive material on the internet. The Bill complements the Commonwealth's laws passed last year, allowing concerned members of the public to complain about offensive internet sites," Mr Griffin says.
"Access to these sites can be removed through the Australian Broadcasting Authority. The proposed State laws will allow prosecution of the persons who upload this content. They do not catch the service provider, who is already covered by the Commonwealth law.
"Objectionable material includes items classifiable as X or RC such as child pornography, and sites instructing in or inciting criminal activity."
"While this Bill cannot be a complete solution to the problem of offensive internet content, much of which originates overseas, it is important that South Australia does what it can to address content that originates from here.
"It is hoped that this Bill will improve the operation of classification laws in South Australia. I know that many South Australians are concerned about the sale or exhibition of offensive material and are particularly concerned about encountering this material when they do not wish to, and most of all about its becoming available to their children. This Bill will help to address these concerns."
Media Contact: Sascha Brooker 8303 2500 0418 806 710
The restrictions do not apply to ordinary e-mail that is only made available to its designated recipient, as this is covered by Commonwealth law. However, if the content of the email were stored and later uploaded so as to be generally available, then it would be caught.
These new laws are intended to catch the content provider, but not the Internet service provider, which provides the carriage service through which the material is accessed, nor the content host who provides the means by which the content is made available.
Under the Commonwealth Broadcasting Services Act, anyone may report offensive material on the Internet to the Australian Broadcasting Authority, which can arrange for the site to be classified. If the site content proves to be illegal, the Authority can require the ISP to remove access to the site.
SIGNIFICANT CHANGES TO THE ACT INLCUDE:
The Bill removes the requirement to have an unclassified item classified before commencing a prosecution. It is an offence to sell an unclassified film or computer game, even if the item is innocuous and would have received a G' classification. This amendment avoids the cost and delay associated with classification, or obtaining a certificate of classification, where it is apparent to all that the item was or would have been classified in a particular way.
Were multiple products are seized on the same day from the same premises, and the defendant is convicted of prescribed offences in respect of ten or more different items, which are then forfeit, all the other items seized at the same time are also forfeited.
The Bill makes provision for expiation of a number of the less serious classification offences. This measure is intended, not to detract from the seriousness of these offences, but to improve the enforcement of the Act. At present, all offences must be prosecuted. Bearing in mind that many of the relevant offences are committed in the course of business and therefore apply to multiple copies of items, this is time consuming and costly. Many offences are clear-cut offences of a technical nature that the defendant may well wish to expiate if given the opportunity. Payment of an expiation notice will not amount to a criminal conviction.
Commonwealth Community Liaison Officers with the Office of Film and Literature Classification will be authorised to issue expiation notices, in addition to ordinary enforcement by police.
The Bill also seeks to clarify the situation where parent or guardian takes
a minor under 15 to see a film classified MA15+. It is lawful to show such
a film to the minor, provided that a parent or guardian accompanies him or
her at all times, except where the parent or guardian is temporarily absent
from the cinema to use facilities provided for patrons.'
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