Regulatory attempts show ignorance of Net

Whilst governments have a role to play in legislating with respect to the Internet, Australian governments' attempts at regulation of the Internet show a lack of knowledge of the medium, That is the view of John Lambrick, manager of Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology's legal services.

"The concern is that, as with the recent Broadcasting Services Amendment (Online Services) Act enacted to restrict access to Internet pornography, the legislatures have failed to understand - or perhaps don't want to understand - the nature of the Internet and the ability of governments to effectively regulate it," Lambrick said.

Lambrick says that single governments cannot effectively regulate the Internet because the activity the government seeks to regulate often takes place beyond its borders.

According to Lambrick, international consensus about the powers of a government to regulate activity of individuals outside its boundaries needs to be reached.

"For example, Section 9(1) of the Victorian Act provides that a person must not offer or advertise in Victoria the playing of interactive games. If a person legitimately conducts an interactive gaming business in the Netherlands, their Web site, when accessed in Victoria would constitute such an advertisement or offer. Would that person risk arrest if the interactive game was not registered in Victoria and subsequently set foot in the State?" Lambrick asked.

Lambrick does see a role for governments to enact legislation to facilitate Internet transactions.

"The Australian Internet gaming legislation facilitates transactions in that it creates an environment for a person to gamble online with a solvent body and with a reasonable likelihood that winnings will be paid."

"Unfortunately the legislation goes too far by unrealistically attempting to regulate online gaming activity."

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