The Australian Communications Authority (ACA) is holding public meetings to find measures to restrict access by children to adult content on mobile phones.
The meetings, which will be held in Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne, will discuss proposed new rules to protect consumers, especially users under 18 years old, accessing new premium services using their mobile phones.
"We are looking for feedback about proposed measures to restrict access by children to adult content, to prohibit explicit content and to protect children who use chat rooms on their mobile phones from behaviour such as paedophile grooming," ACA acting chairman Bob Horton said.
The measures include safeguards for children using chat rooms and a requirement that the chat rooms be monitored.
"Feedback from the public on the new rules will help to ensure that they are practical and effective, and are a fair response to the risks associated with mobile premium services," Horton said.
"If inappropriate material is found to be accessible through mobile phones, the rules give the ACA the ability to have it removed quickly," he added.
Horton said the ACA also wants to ensure that consumers are informed about the costs of mobile premium services and how they can unsubscribe to services they no longer want.
"This is a completely new area of regulation and the ACA is very keen to have as much feedback as possible," Horton said.
The new rules focus on premium services accessed through text messages (SMS), multimedia messages (MMS), and mobile carrier portals. These services provide content such as sports scores, streaming of audio and video music clips and sports highlights, as well as mobile ring tones, wallpaper, games and applications for downloading.
Some of the proposed rules include requiring carriage service providers who supply chat services to moderate those that are not adult chat services.
An age verification procedure is also proposed by the ACA. Carriage service providers who supply adult service by way of premium service will have to require customers to personally provide proof of age by way of document that is recognised as a proof of identity.
The proposal also includes obtaining an acknowledgement in writing from the customer stating that he or she is aware that adult services may only be supplied to persons 18 years old and above. And a request in writing from the customer stating that he or she be given access to adult services.
The ACA also proposed to install a keypad command that will allow customers to discontinue their subscription using the word "stop" followed by an identifier that identifies the service.
Self-regulatory schemes by the carriage service providers are also included in the proposal from the ACA. The self-regulatory scheme requires service providers to include specific procedures on verifying the age of customers who are requesting access to adult services; contain information about premium services charges and terms and conditions of the use of premium services.
The public meetings will be held in Canberra on February 7, Sydney on February 8 and Melbourne in February 9.