The ACMA administers the national regulatory scheme for online content. The scheme was established under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, and is designed to address community concerns about offensive and illegal material on the internet and mobile phones.
Under the scheme, the ACMA:
- investigates complaints about online content and internet gambling services
- encourages the development and registration of codes of practice
- undertakes a range of supporting activities including research and international liaison.
The ACMA also enforces Australia's anti-spam law. More information is available at the Spam and e-security homepage.
What types of online content are prohibited?
Under the Act, 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.
If the content is hosted in or provided from Australia and is prohibited, or is likely to be prohibited, the ACMA will direct the content service provider to remove or prevent access to the content on their service.
If the content is not hosted in or provided from Australia and is prohibited, or is likely to be prohibited, the ACMA will notifiy the content to the suppliers of approved filters in accordance with the Internet Industry Association's Code of Practice. If the content is also sufficiently serious, for example, illegal material such as child pornography, the ACMA may refer the material to the appropriate law enforcement agency.
As part of an investigation, the ACMA may request the Classification Board to classify the content.
The ACMA will advise all people who lodge a complaint of the outcome of its investigation.