Broadcast regulator bans extreme mobile content

Mobile phone content is now subject to the same classifications as film and computer games, Australia's broadcasting regulator says.Under a new Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) code of practice -- released on Friday -- mobile content providers cannot supply any content classified in the X18+ (unsimulated sexually explicit activity) or RC (refused classification) categories.

Mobile phone content is now subject to the same classifications as film and computer games, Australia's broadcasting regulator says.

Under a new Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) code of practice -- released on Friday -- mobile content providers cannot supply any content classified in the X18+ (unsimulated sexually explicit activity) or RC (refused classification) categories.

X18+ content is legal in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. RC-rated content typically contains detailed instruction in crime, violence or drug use, or depictions of illegal sexual activity such as bestiality. Such content is not legal anywhere in the nation.

The ABA added that users wanting to access content in the medium-level classifications of R18+ or MA15+ would need to opt-in to receive services, as well as verify they were 18 years or older.

In general, according to the ABA, content will be treated the same no matter how it is delivered.

"The content codes use the National Classification Code categories that apply to films, DVDs and computer games," the regulator said in a statement. "This will help ensure consistent treatment of content across fixed and mobile entertainment platforms."

Other codes released today aim to improve Internet users' access to surfing safety tools by requiring Internet service providers (ISPs) to prominently display links to such information on their Web sites.

"It is important that families have easy access to accurate and reliable information about managing the risks associated with the Internet, and ISPs have important roles to play in educating their customers," said the ABA's acting chair Lyn Maddock.

The regulator also highlighted the government's intent to develop legislation to deal with the matter.

"The ABA understands the government is preparing legislative reforms to establish a permanent regulatory framework for content delivered to mobile and other convergent devices," the statement said.

The codes were initially developed by the Internet Industry Association (IIA) and replace old ones in operation since May 2002. They will operate for 12 months before coming under review.

The ABA administers the codes under a 'co-regulatory' system in conjunction with the government and local industry.