Parliament passes the content services bill

Content protection for converged devices

The Communications Legislation Amendment (Content Services) Bill 2007 passed through the Parliament this week.

The legislation extends the current safeguards that apply to content delivered over the Internet or television to content delivered over convergent devices such as 3G mobile phones and services available via subscription Internet portals.

ICT Minister Helen Coonan said the reforms provide a new framework which seeks to achieve consistency in the classification of content irrespective of the platform over which it is delivered.

Coonan said it is based on existing measures including the current Online Content Scheme, and the regulatory framework already applying to premium mobile phone content services.

"The new scheme will strengthen the framework for the regulation of stored content, and establish new rules for live and interactive content services (such as chat rooms), and services which provide links to content," she said.

"Under the new arrangements the regulator will be able to take action to direct material be taken down or access removed where it is provided in contravention of the new rules."

"Strong sanctions will be put in place including criminal penalties with fines for corporations of up to $55,000 per day during which the contravention occurs."

The reforms also allow for industry co-regulation as a means of providing for regulatory frameworks to evolve and adapt with the technologies and services which they regulate.

Coonan said the passage of this legislation forms an important part of the Government's multi-faceted approach to dealing with the potential risks associated with harmful content available online.

She said this involves a combination of legislation, enforcement, education and technology and includes the amendments to the Criminal Code Act 1995 effective from March, 2005 that target the use of the Internet to access, transmit and make available child pornography and child abuse material.

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