Games, crime, porn and Facebook (laws)

Summary:An R18+ classification for computer games is long overdue in Australia and internet filtering based on the Interpol blacklist is "reasonable enough", says legal expert Peter Black. However, he does have concerns.

An R18+ classification for computer games is long overdue in Australia and internet filtering based on the Interpol blacklist is "reasonable enough", says legal expert Peter Black. However, he does have concerns.

The decision by South Australia's Attorney-General John Rau to "re-badge" all MA15+ games as R18+ to further restrict their access in that state is "very strange", says Black. He also notes the lack of oversight of the Interpol blacklist.

Black teaches internet and media law at the Queensland University of Technology. On this week's Patch Monday podcast he discusses the many recent legal moves in Australia that affect the internet and technology, including:

  • The Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG) decision to introduce the R18+ games classification;
  • An inquiry into a legislated right to privacy;
  • The spread of "voluntary" internet filtering against the Interpol blacklist;
  • Laws relating to cybercrime; and
  • Calls to bring Facebook under control.

The 2008 report into privacy by the Australian Law Reform Commission already provides a "perfectly good" set of recommendations, Black says. "The hard work has already been done for them."

Meanwhile, since our last conversation about filtering, more internet service providers have begun blocking access to child exploitation material using Interpol's "worst of the worst" blacklist.

"Certainly the Interpol list is a good list," says Black. "I am comforted by the fact that it does require at least two law enforcement agencies in two different countries to refer sites." He is concerned, though, that blacklisting could be used as leverage against recalcitrant hosting providers.

The SCAG meeting also resulted in calls for more regulation of Facebook and other social networking services, including the possibility of Facebook being restricted in Australia to those aged 18 and up rather than the existing age limit of 13, as well as the ability for parents to access their children's profiles.

"It's a monumentally stupid idea," Black says. "What more do you need me to say?"

Patch Monday also includes my usual look at some of last week's news headlines.

To leave an audio comment on the program, Skype to stilgherrian, or phone Sydney 02 8011 3733.

Running time: 42 minutes, 24 seconds

Topics: Security, Legal, Social Enterprise

About

Stilgherrian is a freelance journalist, commentator and podcaster interested in big-picture internet issues, especially security, cybercrime and hoovering up bulldust. He studied computing science and linguistics before a wide-ranging media career and a stint at running an IT business. He can write iptables firewall rules, set a rabbit tr... Full Bio

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