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Untangling the Net - The Scope of Content Caught by Mandatory Internet Filtering

Untangling the Net - The Scope of Content Caught by Mandatory Internet Filtering

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Published by The Punch
The scope of content that may be captured by internet filtering as proposed by the Australian Government.
The scope of content that may be captured by internet filtering as proposed by the Australian Government.

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Published by: The Punch on Dec 16, 2009
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01/17/2013

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Untangling the Net: The Scope ofContent Caught By MandatoryInternet Filtering
Professor Catharine Lumby,Journalism and Media Research Centre,University of New South WalesProfessor Lelia Green,Edith Cowan UniversityProfessor John Hartley, ARC Centre forCreative Industries and Innovation,
 
Queensland University of Technology
 
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Table of Contents
Executive Summary ............................................................................................................... iKey Findings ..……………………………………………………………………………….. ii1.0
Introduction
......…………………………………………………………………… 11.1 Background .............................................................................................................. 11.2 Research Questions .................................................................................................. 11.3 Methodology ............................................................................................................ 11.4 Internet Filtering Terminology ................................................................................. 21.5 Structure of the Report ............................................................................................. 21.6 Media Content Regulation in Australia ……………………………………………... 32.0
The Scope of Filtered Content
................................................................................... 62.1 Introduction .............................................................................................................. 62.2 Current Government Policy: Ministerial Statements .................................................. 62.3 The ACMA Blacklist ………………………………………………………...…….... 72.4 Online content regulation: the treatment of X and RC material ................................ 112.5 Transparency and the Right to Appeal …….……………………………………….. 143.0
International Practice of Internet Filtering
………………………………………... 153.1 Europe .................................................................................................................... 153.1.1 Great Britain ........................................................................................................... 163.1.2 Germany ................................................................................................................. 163.1.3 Italy ........................................................................................................................ 163.1.4 Sweden and Norway ............................................................................................... 173.1.5 Ireland .................................................................................................................... 173.1.6 Denmark and Finland.............................................................................................. 173.2 United States and Canada ........................................................................................ 173.3 New Zealand ........................................................................................................... 193.4 Reporters Without Borders ...................................................................................... 193.5 Open Net Initiative and Pervasive or Substantial Filtering …..…………………... 203.6 Conclusion ……………………………………………… ………………………... 244.0
Public Interest Matters: A Summary
........................................................................ 25Appendix One - The Practice of Filtering ............................................................................ 30Appendix Two – National Classification Code for Films ..................................................... 33Appendix Three – National Classification Guidelines.......................................................... 35References ……………………………………………………………………………...…... 36
 
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Executive Summary
Background
The following report considers a number of key challenges the Australian Federal Government facesin designing the regulatory framework and the reach of its planned mandatory internet filter. Previousreports on the mandatory filtering scheme have concentrated on the filtering technologies, theirefficacy, their cost and their likely impact on the broadband environment. This report focuses on thescope and the nature of content that is likely to be caught by the proposed filter and on identifyingassociated public policy implications.We recognise that the Federal Government faces real challenges in balancing the risks posed by theonline media environment with the opportunities that environment presents. In preparing this report,the authors acknowledge that the Federal Government is still considering the detail of how mandatoryfiltering will be implemented and how classification will work under the scheme. Our research is notintended to pre-empt those decisions but to offer constructive input, to highlight key public policychallenges and to inform public dialogue.This report was prepared by three senior academics in the media studies field, Professor CatharineLumby, Professor Lelia Green and Professor John Hartley. We have all published extensively on theissues of online media, media content regulation, young people and media consumption, and publicpolicy. As members of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation, we arecurrently collaborating on a large research project that considers the risks and opportunities forchildren in the online and mobile media era. The research on which this report is based wassupported by the Internet Industry Association and we acknowledge their assistance. We would alsolike to acknowledge the input of Professor Stuart Cunningham, Director of the ARC Centre ofExcellence for Creative Industries and Innovation at QUT, and the research assistance of Paul Taylor.The Federal Government faces unprecedented challenges in media content regulation. The onlineenvironment is one in which media consumers are increasingly becoming media producers, withenormously varying levels of skill and distribution. The means of distribution and consumption rangeacross content developed and distributed by established media organisations, through emergingonline sites, to amateur and peer-to-peer content.A neglected aspect of public policy that needs to be considered in the internet filtering debate is thequestion of how we sensibly balance the risks posed by online material, particularly to children, andthe opportunities provided to the broader community to participate in sometimes controversialdebates, to access and debate material pertaining to political and social issues, and to allowreasonable adults to make decisions about what they consume or produce online.Australia’s current system for regulating media content has evolved erratically, reactively andinconsistently. The Federal Government has inherited not only the challenges of the new media erabut equally the deficiencies of the regulatory regime developed for past media eras. It is clear thatAustralia needs to avoid simply applying an inadequate and inconsistent media content regulationregime to a very different and emergent media landscape. There is a clear need to rethink mediacontent regulation in the online era –a need supported by the research detailed in the body of thisreport.The challenge of regulating media content in the online era is also an opportunity to examine therationale of media content regulation from first principles and to engage the public and allstakeholders in a dialogue about the purpose and scope of classification.
 

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