New regulations for Internet and mobile content set for 2008

Single framework will remove excessive overheads for business

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is seeking comment on proposed changes to a number of legal instruments ahead of the introduction of a new regulatory framework for Internet and mobile content in January 2008.

ACMA is seeking comments on three draft legal instruments: a new Restricted Access Systems Declaration, a draft amendment to the Telecommunications Service Provider (Mobile Premium Services) Determination 2005 (No.1) and a draft amendment to the Numbering Plan.

The proposed new Restricted Access Systems Declaration will, for the first time, combine regulation of access to age-restricted Internet content hosted in Australia with that of mobile content and newer types of content - for example, live streamed content - under a single framework.

ACMA chairman, Chris Chapman, said providers of content will benefit from a uniform approach to managing access to age-restricted electronic content.

'In designing the Restricted Access Systems Declaration, ACMA has been guided by two key objectives in the legislation: the public interest in appropriately managing access to content to which age restrictions apply and avoiding the creation of excessive and unnecessary administrative overhead for businesses providing that content," Chapman said.

The draft amendment to the Telecommunications Service Provider (Mobile Premium Services) Determination 2005 (No.1) will remove content-related provisions for mobile phones, which would be consolidated under the new regulatory framework.

ACMA is seeking the views of stakeholders in having the remaining customer protections in the Mobile Premium Services Self Regulatory Scheme, which address prices, terms and conditions for mobile premium services, covered by a consumer code.

Comment is also being sought on a draft amendment to the Numbering Plan that would require age restricted content delivered via premium SMS and MMS services to use numbers beginning with 195 and 196.

The proposed changes to these legal instruments follow the passage of the Communications Legislation Amendment (Content Services) Act 2007 (Content Services Act).

The Content Services Act creates a new Schedule 7 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (BSA), which replaces the current online content regulatory framework in Schedule 5 of the BSA.

The new schedule commences on January 20, 2008 and restricts access to certain classifications of content over a broad range of services delivered over mobile devices and the Internet.

A copy of the discussion papers can be found at the ACMA Web site and submissions close on November, 16, 2007.

The Communications Legislation Amendment (Content Services) Act 2007 (Content Services Act) received Royal Assent in July, 2007.

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