Online content regulation
Illegal and offensive online content is regulated through the Online Content Scheme under Schedule 5 and 7 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 through a complaints-based mechanism. The Scheme is designed to protect consumers, particularly children, from exposure to inappropriate or harmful material.
The Scheme applies to content accessed through the internet, mobile phones and convergent devices, and applies to content delivered through emerging content services such as subscription-based internet portals, chat rooms, live audio-visual streaming, and link services.
Under Schedule 7, prohibited content includes content that has been classified or is likely to be classified:
- RC (refused classification)
- R18+ unless it is subject to a restricted access system
- MA15+ and is provided on a commercial basis (i.e. for a fee) unless it is subject to a restricted access system.
These prohibitions are backed by strong sanctions for non-compliance including criminal penalties for serious offences.
Where content is hosted in Australia and is found by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to be prohibited, the ACMA has the authority to direct the relevant content service provider to remove the content from their service. Where content is not hosted in Australia and is prohibited, the ACMA will notify the content to the suppliers of approved filters, so that access to the content using such filters is blocked.
In addition, regardless of where the content is hosted, if the ACMA considers the content to be of a sufficiently serious nature, it must notify the content to an Australian police force.
Schedule 7 includes a complaints-based mechanism administered by the ACMA. Information, including instructions for making a complaint to the ACMA, is available at www.acma.gov.au/hotline.
Complaints may be lodged by fax to (02) 9334 7799, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
See also the Voicing your concern page for a summary of the procedures for making a complaint about content on the internet, television and radio.
Australian Communications and Media Authority
Queen Victoria Building NSW 1230
Tel: 1800 22 6667 (free call) or
02 9334 7700
Fax: 02 9334 7799
Free call: 1800 22 6667