The Australian Sex Party (ASP) has called for an overhaul to the Broadcasting Services Act to allow the adult industry to offer paid R18+ live video chats to customers using the video conferencing capabilities of the iPhone 4 and similar mobile devices.
Speaking to Computerworld Australia, Australian Sex Party National President, and 2010 Election Senate contender, Fiona Patten, said the combination of high-speed wireless networks and mobile platforms which could offer good quality person to person video conferencing now meant video-based live adult content was technical and commercially viable.
However, without changes to the Broadcasting Services Act, the adult industry’s ability to pioneer paid live content would remain impossible.
“My position is that we need a complete overhaul of the way we deal with censorship in Australia,” she said. “At the moment we are still trying to pigeon hole different forms technology. Most of the forms of mediums have merged, or are in the process of merging, so the notion that you are trying to separate phone content from computer game content is now quite archaic.”
According to Patten, the adult industry in the US was already working to develop ways to monetise the iPhone 4’s FaceTime feature. She also claimed some adult content providers were giving away iPhone 4s to customers in exchange for subscribing to content services for a certain period of time.
US reports already cite adult content providers posting job ads for models, on online directory Craigslist, for the provision of such services.
“As with any new technology or any new kind of communications device, the adult industry is usually quick to jump on to that,” she said. “The live nature of [adult content] really lends itself to the next generation of phone chat very easily.”
On the issue of restricting under-18s access to live adult content, Patten said video chat could be more secure than other forms of adult content as video could be used as an additional means to substantiate a customer’s age.
“With something like the iPhone 4 age verification becomes so much easier, because you are actually looking at the person rather than just having a phone conversation or identifying online that they are over 18,” she said. “You can even sight age verification as well as sight the customer. Putting your driver’s licence up against the screen so someone can check your photo and date of birth is probably as good as it gets without being person to person.”
If the ASP was successful in its lobbying for a change to the Broadcasting Services Act, Patten said normally conservative telecommunications providers would be unlikely to turn down the revenue opportunities provided by the adult industry.
“Their bottom line will probably direct their position on this,” she said. “When you look at the amount of traffic and downloads that the adult industry generates I don’t think you’ll find a problem with telcos – as long as we can keep it regulated and keep complaints down.”
A spokesperson for communications minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, said under Schedule Seven in the Online Content Scheme of the Broadcasting Services Act, prohibited content included content which had been classified or was likely to be classified:
- RC (refused classification)
- R18+ unless it is subject to a restricted access system
- MA15+ and is provided on a commercial basis (i.e. for a fee) unless it is subject to a restricted access system.
According to ASP’s Patten, by virtue of being R18+ and a commercial service, live adult chat was prohibited under the Online Content Scheme.
The spokesperson for Senator Conroy would not confirm whether the Broadcasting Services Act would be reviewed or amended to allow such services, but said that the Minister would be amending the Online Content Scheme to require ISPs to block overseas hosted content that is deemed Refused Classification under the National Classification Scheme, and is subject of a public complaint or referral by a reputable overseas agency.