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Google Australia Level 18, Tower 1 Darling Park 201 Sussex Street Sydney NSW 2000

Tel: 02 9374-4000 Fax: 02 9374-4001 www.google.com.au

seeks access to a particular piece of content that has been ‘flagged’ as potentially inappropriate for minors.

ACMA’s consultation paper rightly suggests that one goal of the proposed RAS is to take into account the needs of industry by allowing some flexibility in meeting its obligations to operate a restricted access system. Google submits that the Declaration must be flexible enough to recognise the different technical and practical requirements for websites with large amounts of user-generated content. Google does not believe that the RAS proposed in the draft Declaration is technically or practically appropriate (or potentially even possible) for these types of sites.

Google suggests that there are two broad approaches to amending the Declaration which may better achieve ACMA’s goal in conjunction with recognising the technological realities of user generated content sites:

  • amending the Declaration to set high level goals or objectives for the RAS, rather than specify the component parts of a RAS to the level of detail currently contained in the Declaration; and/or

  • amending the Declaration to distinguish between content services with a direct commercial/subscription type relationship with users, and non-commercial internet user generated content sites.

We set out below Google’s suggested alternative to meeting the objectives of Schedule 7.

4.

Access Control Systems for MA15+ Content, R18+ Content and User Generated Content Services Generally

Google submits that the specified attributes for a RAS in the current draft RAS Declaration are largely unworkable in their current form for non-commercial internet content services (that is, internet content services that are not provided to the public either on payment by the access seeker of a subscription or for particular content).

In particular, it is unclear how it would be technically or administratively possible for a non-commercial website containing user generated content to comply with the proposed regime for restricting access to R18+ content.

The draft declaration currently imposes the same level of regulation for a RAS to assess eligibility to view/access MA15+ content as for R18+. Google submits that requiring the same standards of authentication for M15+ and R18+ content may be inappropriate for two main reasons:

  • Practical difficulties - Google notes that, to the best of its knowledge, there is no universal standard of identification across Australia for 15, 16 and 17 year olds

    • (i.

      e. the category of users who may legally view MA15+ content but not content that has been classified R18+).

  • Equivalence in treatment for content delivered across various media platforms – Google notes that the implementation of the current proposed RAS for MA15+ would introduce more stringent access requirements for 15,16 and 17 year olds accessing content via the internet than are currently applicable to the same content delivered via free to air television or at a cinema.

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