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Executive Summary – Google comments on draft RAS Declaration
The principal feature for users of YouTube and similar user generated video content (“UGC”) services provided as ‘on-sites’ (that is, enabling content to be uploaded by users without human intervention or intermediation by the content host) is spontaneity of sharing of video content, enabled by immediate global availability of content when uploaded by a user. Globally available UGC services create particular challenges for service providers seeking to address user concerns as and when they arise, and for policy-makers concerned to ensure that national expectations as to acceptable and unacceptable content are properly addressed.
Schedule 7 of the BAS has no, or only limited application to Google’s current services, including YouTube for a number of reasons (including because YouTube does not currently host content in Australia). However Google’s desire to promote international best practice in regulation, Google’s innovation as a service provider and Google’s concerns as to uncertainties in scope of operation of both Schedule 7 and the draft RAS Declaration, lead Google to suggest a number of amendments to the draft RAS Declaration for ACMA’s consideration.
ACMA’s discretions include an ability to differentiate between different types of content or hosting services in declaring a RAS. In exercising these discretions, Google submits that ACMA should give due consideration to the different financial and administrative burden imposed by implementation of access control systems upon providers of ‘free’ Internet services from providers of ‘for payment’ Internet and mobile services.
Google supports the Internet Industry of Australia’s (IIA) proposal that a restricted access system in relation to particular MA15+ content that is the subject of a take-down notice (that is, in a type B remedial situation, such as under clause 47(7)) might be required to have the following characteristics:
an access seeker is required to make a declaration prior to access to ‘covered MA15+ content’ (under clause 20(1)(c) and 20(1)(d) of Schedule 7) that the content access seeker is 15 years or over;
the site provides a warning notice before ‘covered MA15+ content’ is first made available that this content is only suitable for persons 15 years or over;
the site provides a link to an approved internet content filter (e.g. a IIA Family Friendly filter which may include a PAFO approved filter) whereby persons seeking access to the relevant content will be provided with a means of limiting access by other persons to the content;
the access provider has conducted an internal risk assessment as to the likelihood of access by children under the age of 15 to their content (guidelines for which assessment may be set out in relevant industry