Melon Farmers Original Version

Australia Censorship News


2020: Jan-March

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Blocking streams...

Australia reveals a new internet censorship, mechanism targeted at terrorist events


Link Here30th March 2020
Full story: Internet Censorship in Australia...Wide ranging state internet censorship
Australia has issued a new internet censorship mechanism initially targeted at blocking terrorist content along the lines of streaming of the Christchurch mosque murders.

Australian ISPs will block websites hosting graphic terrorist videos following an online crisis event under the direction of the eSafety Commissioner. Websites may be blocked for around five days.

eSafety Commissioner, Julie Inman Grant, said a high threshold must be reached before a website can be blocked.

Minister for Communications Paul Fletcher said the protocol was an important new mechanism that will help keep Australians safe online. He added"

Now we have a framework in place to enable a rapid, coordinated and decisive response to contain the rapid spread of terrorist or extreme violent material.

The censorship protocol was created by the eSafety Commissioner's office and the Communications Alliance, which represents the country's telecommunication industry.

According to the new guidelines, an online crisis event occurs when an act of terrorism or violent crime takes place, and material depicting or promoting that incident is shared quickly online. To be blocked, the material must be likely to cause significant harm to the community by causing trauma or be content that promotes, incites or instructs in terrorist acts or violent crimes, among other considerations.

The Government plans to legislatively back the new protocol as part of a forthcoming Online Safety Act.

 

 

The Australian Censorship Wasteland...

Previously banned game, Wasteland 3, is cut for an R18+ rating


Link Here29th March 2020
Full story: Banned Games in Australia...Games and the Australian Censorship Board
Wasteland 3 is a 2020 US multi-player role playing game by inXile

The game was banned by the Australian Censorship Board in February 2020. The censors did not provide any meaningful reason for the ban, but the censor's usual bugbear is that something considered naughty is used as an incentive in the game mechanism.

Well the game makers have elected to make cuts and to resubmit the game. This time round the censors passed the cut game as R18+ for Sexual activity related to incentives and rewards, online interactivity.

 

 

Protecting the age of innocence...

Whilst endangering everyone else. Australian parliamentary committee recommends age verification from porn


Link Here8th March 2020
Full story: Age Verification for Porn...Endangering porn users for the sake of the children

Protecting the age of innocence

Report of the inquiry into age verification for online wagering and online pornography

House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs

Executive Summary

The Committee’s inquiry considered the potential role for online age verification in protecting children and young people in Australia from exposure to online wagering and online pornography.

Evidence to the inquiry revealed widespread and genuine concern among the community about the serious impacts on the welfare of children and young people associated with exposure to certain online content, particularly pornography.

The Committee heard that young people are increasingly accessing or being exposed to pornography on the internet, and that this is associated with a range of harms to young people’s health, education, relationships, and wellbeing. Similarly, the Committee heard about the potential for exposure to online wagering at a young age to lead to problem gambling later in life.

Online age verification is not a new concept. However, the Committee heard that as governments have sought to strengthen age restrictions on online content, the technology for online age verification has become more sophisticated, and there are now a range of age-verification services available which seek to balance effectiveness and ease-of-use with privacy, safety, and security.

In considering these issues, the Committee was concerned to see that, in so much as possible, age restrictions that apply in the physical world are also applied in the online world.

The Committee recognised that age verification is not a silver bullet, and that protecting children and young people from online harms requires government, industry, and the community to work together across a range of fronts. However, the Committee also concluded that age verification can create a significant barrier to prevent young people—and particularly young children—from exposure to harmful online content.

The Committee’s recommendations therefore seek to support the implementation of online age verification in Australia.

The Committee recommended that the Digital Transformation Agency lead the development of standards for online age verification. These standards will help to ensure that online age verification is accurate and effective, and that the process for legitimate consumers is easy, safe, and secure.

The Committee also recommended that the Digital Transformation Agency develop an age-verification exchange to support a competitive ecosystem for third-party age verification in Australia.

In relation to pornography, the Committee recommended that the eSafety Commissioner lead the development of a roadmap for the implementation of a regime of mandatory age verification for online pornographic material, and that this be part of a broader, holistic approach to address the risks and harms associated with online pornography.

In relation to wagering, the Committee recommended that the Australian Government implement a regime of mandatory age verification, alongside the existing identity verification requirements. The Committee also recommended the development of educational resources for parents, and consideration of options for restricting access to loot boxes in video games, including though the use of age verification.

The Committee hopes that together these recommendations will contribute to a safer online environment for children and young people.

Lastly, the Committee acknowledges the strong public interest in the inquiry and expresses its appreciation to the individuals and organisations that shared their views with the Committee.

 

 

Random Rating Generator...

Australian Freedom of Information request reveals a humiliating 2016 report about the inaccuracy of the Classification Boards automated game and app rating tool


Link Here4th March 2020
Full story: Game Censorship in Australia...Classification board, video game, cuts
Several times last year Australian games ratings have been reported for arbitrary ratings assigned under the Australian Classification Board's IARC automated game and app rating tool.

Variants of the same game on different platforms appeared in the classification database with wildly different outcomes. One game achieved being 15 rated, 18 rated and banned. Inevitably when the shit hit the fan and the incompetent ratings gained the attention of publicity, human censors stepped in and sorted out the rating (down to 15), and expunged all the embarrassing misfires from the database.

Well it seems that the shoddy system has been discussed for a while and a damning report from 2016 has just been published as a result of a Freedom of Information request.

The report reveals that a selection of ratings from the tool were audited by compared them with an assessment from a human censor.

Results were particularly atrocious fro the higher ratings. A table on page 13 reveals that:

  • 56% of M (PG-15) ratings assigned by the tool were wrong
  • 72% of MA 15+ ratings were wrong
  • 100% of R 18+ ratings were wrong
  • 99% of RC (banned) ratings were wrong

In all of these categories the automated ratings were nearly always lowered by the audit.

The failure of the system was attributed to the inaccuracy of data input but surely this is a systemic failure to define tight enough definitions of date required.

 

 

Gap years...

Australian film distributors call for a PG-13 rating


Link Here2nd March 2020
An Australian film industry coalition is calling for new classification between PG and M (which is a PG-15 rating).

Major and independent film distributors and exhibitors are urging the federal government to adopt a new PG13 classification which they say would benefit family-friendly Australian and international films that get M ratings.

Echoing calls by Screen Producers Australia and the Australian Children's Television Foundation, the Film Industry Associations (FIA) also advocates a uniform classification system across all delivery platforms, with self-classification by the industry, overseen by a government regulator.

The say the  current review system is no longer fit-for-purpose. It is expensive and unfeasibly time-consuming in an environment where digital distribution has minimised the time between the delivery of a film and its release date, the FIA says in its submission to the government classification review.

 

 

Offsite Article: What else but Nazis do you call officious managers who sack someone for a joke...


Link Here29th February 2020
Employment tribunal give Australian BP worker his job back after he was sacked because if a meme

See article from dailytelegraph.com.au

 

 

Updated: Didn't the censors do their job the first time round?...

Australian senator calls for the re-review of all classified anime and manga


Link Here 28th February 2020
Stirling Griff, a crossbencher from the Centre Alliance party used a speech in the Australian Senate to call for all anime and manga in the country to be re-reviewed by the classification board. He claimed that they contain depictions of wide-eyed children, usually in school uniforms, engaged in explicit sexual activities and poses, and often being sexually abused.

But given that the classification board had classified the material then presumably the censors hold a different view.

Griff called out Eromanga Sensei, a novel series from 2013 about a 15-year-old high schooler who uses an anonymous partner called Eromanga Sensei to illustrate his stories, who is later revealed to be a 12-year-old junior high schooler.

Manga and anime is exempt from exploitation laws in Japan, as cartoon characters are not considered to be depictions of real children. In Australia, the Classification Board has argued otherwise, with some anime games being refused classification precisely for sexual depictions of underage characters.

 Offsite Comment: Australian senator doesn't understand ratings, begins slippery slope to banning everything

27th February 2020. See article from highimpactclassification.wordpress.com

Update: A response from the Film Classification Board

28th February 2020. See article from classification.gov.au by Margaret Anderson, Director, Classification Board

Classification of anime films

The Classification Board (the Board) is aware of concerns about the classification of certain Japanese anime genre films, specifically Sword Art Online: Extra Edition, No Game No Life, and Eromanga Sensei Volumes 1 & 2, and about comic books featuring manga style drawings not being classified by the Board.

The Board classifies films in accordance with the Guidelines for the Classification of Films (the Film Guidelines) . There are not specific or separate guidelines to classify animated films. Films can be classified in the classification categories from G to R 18+ (with the X 18+ category limited to films containing sexually explicit activity). If a film contains content that exceeds the scope and limits of content that is permitted in the R 18+ category, it will be Refused Classification (RC). Films in the anime genre have been classified across a range of categories, including M, MA 15+, R 18+ and RC.

The Film Guidelines require an assessment of impact of six classifiable elements (themes, violence, sex, coarse language, drug use and nudity); not an assessment of the genre type or whether the film depicts 'real' people or animated characters. The Guidelines state " Context is crucial in determining whether a classifiable element is justified by the story -line or themes. This means that material that falls into a particular classification category in one context may fall outside it in another. "

In addition to determining the classification, the Board must determine consumer advice for a film. The purpose of consumer advice is to draw attention to only the most impactful and frequent content relating to the six classifiable elements. Therefore, not all the content in a film will warrant consumer advice. The classifications for the named films are:

  • Sword Art Online: Extra Edition is classified M with consumer advice 'sexualised imagery, sexual references and animated violence.
  • No Game No Life is classified MA 15+ with consumer advice 'strong sexual themes'.
  • Eromanga Sensei Volumes 1 & 2 are classified MA 15+ with consumer advice 'strong sexual themes'.

Regarding comic books, only submittable publications are required to be classified. The Board classifies submittable publications in accordance with the Guidelines for the Classification of Publications . It is the responsibility of distributors of comic books to decide if the comic book should be classified. States and territories are responsible for classification enforcement legislation which includes offences for selling an unclassified submittable publication.

The Board is aware that a campaign has been launched about the sale of Japanese manga and anime in Australia and that in the context of the Government's Review of Classification Regulation this issue has been raised. The Board welcomes this review.

Margaret Anderson
Director, Classification Board

 

 

Offsite Article: Let's Finally Fix Australia's Video Game Rating System, and Properly This Time...


Link Here 17th February 2020
Full story: Game Censorship in Australia...Classification board, video game, cuts
R18+ rating reform was never the end of the story. By Luke Reilly

See article from sea.ign.com

 

 

The Australian Online Harms Bill...

Australian government consults on its upcoming internet censorship plans


Link Here13th January 2020
Full story: Age Verification for Porn...Endangering porn users for the sake of the children
The Australian government writes:

We are seeking feedback on proposals for a new Online Safety Act to improve Australia's online safety regulatory framework.

The proposed reforms follow a 2018 review of online safety legislation which recommended the replacement of the existing framework with a single Online Safety Act.

Key proposals include:

  • A set of basic online safety expectations for industry (initially social media platforms), clearly stating community expectations, with associated reporting requirements.

  • An enhanced cyberbullying scheme for Australian children to capture a range of online services, not just social media platforms.

  • A new cyber abuse scheme for Australian adults to facilitate the removal of serious online abuse and harassment and introduce a new end user take-down and civil penalty regime.

  • Consistent take-down requirements for image-based abuse, cyber abuse, cyberbullying and seriously harmful online content, requiring online service providers to remove such material within 24 hours of receiving an eSafety Commissioner request.

  • A reformed online content scheme requiring the Australian technology industry to be proactive in addressing access to harmful online content. The scheme would also expand the eSafety Commissioner's powers to address illegal and harmful content on websites hosted overseas.

  • An ancillary service provider scheme to provide the eSafety Commissioner with the capacity to disrupt access to seriously harmful online material made available via search engines, app stores and other ancillary service providers.

  • An additional power for the eSafety Commissioner to respond rapidly to an online crisis event (such as the Christchurch terrorist attacks) by requesting internet service providers block access to sites hosting seriously harmful content.

The consultation runs to 5pm 19th February 2020

 

 

Harmonising discord...

The Australian government is reviewing some aspects of its censorship rules for a digital environment


Link Here9th January 2020
The Australian Government write:

The National Classification Scheme was enacted in 1995 in the age of dial-up internet. Since then, the internet and streaming services have changed the way we access and consume content.

The current system was not designed to manage changing technologies or the large volumes of content now available via streaming services, online game storefronts and other content platforms.

On 16 December 2019, the Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts released terms of reference for a review of Australia's classification regulation.

This review seeks to develop a classification framework that meets community needs and reflects today's digital environment.

Key issues to be considered include:

  • How best to harmonise the regulatory framework for classification across broadcast content, online content and physical product such as DVDs and boxed games.

  • Whether the criteria for classifying films and computer games are still appropriate and useful and continue to reflect community standards and concerns.

  • The type of content that should be required to be classified.

  • Who should be responsible for classifying content and what level of government oversight is appropriate.

Consultation Period: January 08 to February 19, 2020 17:00 AEDT

Note that the government has specifically excluded X rated porn issues from the debate.


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