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Australian Regulator Accepts Net Industry Codes

17 December 1999

Canberra, Australia -- The Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA), which holds regulatory responsibilities under Australia's new online content legislation, has registered three Internet industry codes of practice developed by the Internet Industry Association (IIA).

The IIA's codes deal with the regulation of offensive and illegal material on the Internet and the responsibilities of Internet service providers (ISPs) and Internet content hosts. They will also eventually cover a wide range of online issues such as privacy and protection of personal information, consumer protection in e-commerce, advertising, unsolicited e-mail and online gambling.

The codes are due to come into force from January 1, 2000, when Australia's new Internet regulations go live.

Sections of the codes dedicated to Internet content will be adopted instead of default provisions in the Broadcasting Services Act amendments. Provisions such as the blocking of overseas content at each ISP would have come into force at the beginning of 2000 if no code of practice had been adopted. The IIA's codes were the only ones offered up by the Australian Internet industry.

The registration of the IIA's codes means that ISPs will be required to provide end-users with Internet content control information and filtering tools or optional filtered Internet access services.

Children under 18 will not be able to open Internet accounts without parental or adult consent.

"This will ensure a basic level of control from the very start," said Peter Coroneos, executive director of the IIA. "ISPs would then augment this with the provision of empowerment tools. While no-one will be forced to use a filter, we see no reason why Australian families will not also take advantage of these options."

Coroneos claimed that the costs to ISPs implementing the code would not significantly impact on the costs of Internet access in Australia.

"Many ISPs already provide filtering tools to their customers for little or no charge as a value-added service," he said. "The availability of these tools on an industry-wide basis will keep costs down, as will competition in the marketplace."

"We believe that our approach of 'industry facilitated user empowerment' is the most practical way to provide protection while not hampering the growth and development of the industry in Australia," added Coroneos. "We are confident that it will receive the support of both the industry and the community at large."

Alongside the development of the IIA's code will be the establishment of a complaints hotline administered by the ABA. This will be operational from January 1, 2000, taking complaints about content from Internet users. Locally hosted Websites that contain adult material will need to be protected by adult verification systems (Newsbytes, December 8, 1999).

The IIA codes can be found on the Web, at www.iia.net.au.

Reported by Newsbytes.com, www.newsbytes.com.

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