The Australian legislative bid to regulate mobile content similar to broadcast TV rules has new momentum. The impetus is the case of "an 11-year-old student in Castle Hill who was suspended after he downloaded nude photos onto an internet-capable phone outside school hours, and then brought them to school to show classmates." (Sidney Morning Herald).
The reaction from Australia's Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Helen Coonan:
"Like the Internet, increasingly sophisticated hardware such as mobile phones can be a vital communications tool, but in inexperienced hands they can become a pipeline for perversion."
Actually, the priceless "pipelines for perversion" line is a slight oldie, but goodie. It was first used back in June when Coonan announced the planned legislation. Here's a link to the full speech and a relevant excerpt follows after the jump.
Again, we whole heartedly agree with the prediction that social regulation will drive communications rules in the near future. As Australia goes, so goes....?
The challenge for Government is to provide a regulatory framework that is sensible for both how content is accessed today and how it is likely to be accessed in the future.
The Government has explicitly recognised this challenge both in the regulatory policy underpinning communications legislation and in the terms of reference for the convergent devices review.
While the Government supports the development of innovative new communications services, these new content services may also potentially carry offensive or harmful content.
Therefore I can announce today that new safeguards will be put in place to protect consumers from inappropriate or harmful material on emerging content services such as 3G mobile phones and subscription-based Internet portals.
I will soon introduce to Parliament legislation to provide content safeguards comparable to those in place for traditional media platforms.
It will extend the current safeguards that apply to content delivered over the Internet or television to be applied to content delivered over convergent devices. This will include prohibition of content rated X18+ and above, as well as requirements for consumer advice and age-restrictions on access to content suited only to adults.
These prohibitions will be backed by strong sanctions for non-compliance with the new regulatory framework, including criminal penalties for serious offences.
These initiatives show how seriously this Government takes the issue of protecting children from inappropriate and offensive content.