- What is a content service provider?
- What should Internet content hosts do if they become aware that their service can be used to access child pronography or child abuse material?
- What is prohibited content?
- What are content service providers required to do about prohibited content?
- What other responsibilities does a content service provider have under the scheme?
- What if a content service provider does not comply with an industry code of practice or ACMA take-down notice?
- Can a content service provider seek a review of an ACMA decision?
- Are content service providers protected from legal action by content providers whose content has been taken down?
- Need more information?
The ACMA administers a co-regulatory scheme for online content. The scheme is established under Schedule 5 and Schedule 7 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 and aims to address community concerns about illegal and offensive online content (including internet and mobile phone content). Co-regulation means that Government, industry and the community all have roles to play in managing online safety issues.
For the purposes of the scheme, content service providers can include a range of entities that provide content by way of carriage services. This can include Internet content hosts, who are defined under Schedule 5 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 as a person who hosts Internet content in Australia, or who proposes to host Internet content in Australia.
What should Internet content hosts do if they become aware that their service can be used to access child pornography or child abuse material?
From 1 March 2005, internet content hosts have had responsibilities under the Criminal Code Act 1995. ISPs who become aware that their service can be used to access particular child pornography or child abuse material must refer the details of the material to the AFP. Further information is available from the Attorney-General's Department.
Under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, the following categories of online content are prohibited:
- Any online content that is classified RC* or X 18+* by the Classification Board (formerly the Office of Film and Literature Classification). This includes real depictions of actual sexual activity, child pornography, depictions of bestiality, material containing excessive violence or sexual violence, detailed instruction in crime, violence or drug use, and/or material that advocates the doing of a terrorist act.
- Content which is classified R 18+* and not subject to a restricted access system that prevents access by children. This includes depictions of simulated sexual activity, material containing strong, realistic violence and other material dealing with intense adult themes.
- Content which is classified MA 15+*, provided by a mobile premium service or a service that provides audio or video content upon payment of a fee and that is not subject to a restricted access system. This includes material containing strong depictions of nudity, implied sexual activity, drug use or violence, very frequent or very strong coarse language, and other material that is strong in impact.
* Classifications are based on criteria outlined in the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995, National Classification Code and the Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Computer Games 2005.
Content service providers have a responsibility to remove or prevent access to prohibited content from their service once notified by the ACMA of the existence of the content.
Content service providers have a responsibility to comply with registered industry codes of practice (or, in the absence of a code, industry standards developed by the ACMA). Find out about industry codes.
What if a content service provider does not comply with an industry code of practice or the ACMA take-down notice?
There are a graduated range of enforcement mechanisms and sanctions to allow flexibility in dealing with breaches depending on the seriousness of the circumstances.
Industry codes of practice can be expected to include compliance mechanisms, such as withdrawal of industry association rights or privileges, and compliance incentives, such as the right to display compliance symbols. Such mechanisms will need to be approved by the ACMA through the code registration process.
Designated content/hosting service provider rules require content service providers to comply with ACMA notices and directions, for example, a take-down notice or a direction to comply with a code or standard.
Contravention of an online provider rule is a criminal offence and a continuing offence for each day the contravention continues. Following successful prosecution, the penalty per day is up to 100 penalty points, that is, up to $11,000 per day.
A content service provider may apply to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a review of any of the ACMA's decisions affecting it.
Are content service providers protected from legal actions taken pursuant to notices and directions issues by the ACMA?
Content service providers are protected from civil proceedings (for example, for breach of contract or defamation) in respect of anything they have done in compliance with an industry code of practice, industry standard, and notices and directions issued by the ACMA.
If you would like more information about the scheme please contact the ACMA.