The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) report about rationalising media censorship across all
formats has proposed some sensible reforms to remove some of the more ludicrous anomalies in Australian media censorship.
The current so called 'Refused Classification' (RC) category will be narrowed down a little and renamed to the more sensible tag, 'Prohibited'.
The ALRC first recommended that RC be renamed Prohibited to avoid confusion:
The plain meaning of the term is confusing, because content that is 'Refused Classification' has, in fact, received a classification. That is, the term is open to misunderstanding, because it does not make it clear that the content has been subject to a
classification decision-making process.
The ALRC has recommended that the government should review prohibitions on the depiction of sexual fetishes in films and detailed instruction in the use of proscribed drugs , as well as refining prohibition on content that promotes, incites or
instructs in matters of crime to be only limited to serious crime .
ISPs would only be required to block prohibited content once it has been classified as being prohibited, the ALRC said, and, given the large amount of content online, the ALRC suggested that only a sub-category of prohibited content should be blocked by
the filter, such as child-abuse material.
Another important recommendation of the review is that adult X18+ hardcore content need not be classified beyond the self declared X18+ label. At present such material may only be sold in shops in Canberra and the Northern Territory. It is recommended
that it would be made legal across Australia.
But the regulation should be refined to protect minors from accessing the content. The ALRC conceded that it would not be possible for the Classification Board to classify all adult content online, suggesting that ISPs should take reasonable steps to
restrict access to the content by minors, such as promoting family friendly filters, or potentially implementing age-verification tools for sites that the ISP knows to be classified X18+.
Pirate Party Supportive of ALRC Recommendation
Government politicians have said little so far about the recommendations. However the Pirate Party have
Pirate Party Australia has welcomed some of the recommendations made by the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) about reforming the current classification system.
Several recommendations in the ALRC's final report conform to the Pirate Party's policies, the party said in a statement. David W. Campbell, Party President said that the recommendation to use the term Prohibited in place of the spineless and
vague 'Refused Classification' label was a move in the right direction. Too much content is left in limbo. Hopefully this is a victory for common sense, and we will see less content lumped in with materials that truly deserve to be illegal, such
as child pornography.
Speaking about freedom of expression, the Party statement approved the possible redefinition of the Prohibited category to narrow its scope and review the prohibitions on depictions of sexual fetishes. The Party believes that it is indicative of a
progressive society and feels it is necessary to bring the category in line with what are socially acceptable practices to certain communities legally engaging in the practices depicted.
The Party however, raised an objection to the inclusion of a recommendation which has appeared to some to compel Internet Service Providers (ISP) and other intermediaries to filter the Internet. The Party has been continuously campaigning against the
compulsory Internet filter proposed by Stephen Conroy, the present Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.
The inclusion of the toxic notion of Internet Service Provider obligations is once again flogging the dead horse of privacy encroachment and destructive breakdown of Australian citizens' rights, Campbell elaborated. Saying that the recommendation
tries to convert ISPs into enforcement agencies, Campbell referred to the technical impracticalities of restricting any content on the Internet without destroying it. This expansion of 'intermediary liability' constantly rears its head in all facets
of Internet governance --- it is both unwarranted and unnecessary, he said.