Aussie classification review to focus on freedom of choice, technological change

The Australian Law Reform Commission outlines a set of eight draft principles that will shape the upcoming Australian classification review.

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Late last year, Federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland asked the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) to conduct a comprehensive review of Australia's national classification system in light of recent technological changes, media convergence, and the global distribution platforms of media content.

As part of this ongoing review, the ALRC released an Issues Paper in May this year, providing an overview of the current classification system and inviting the public and industry groups to respond to its strengths and weaknesses and outline what should change.

The Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (iGEA) responded with a submission outlining the current problems with Australia's classification system and calling for an adoption of a global classification system that pays particular attention to changes in technology.

Now, based on the public responses to the Issues Paper, the ALRC has announced a set of eight draft principles that the classification review will seek to address and which will form the basis for any new policy framework.

The eight principles are:

-Australians should be able to read, hear, see, and participate in media of their choice;
-Communications and media services available to Australians should broadly reflect community standards, while recognising a diversity of views, cultures and ideas in the community;
-Children should be protected from material likely to harm or disturb them;
-The National Classification Scheme needs to provide consumer information in a timely and clear manner, and to provide a responsive and effective means of addressing community concerns, including complaints;
-The National Classification Scheme needs to be responsive to technological change and adaptive to new technologies, platforms and services;
-The National Classification Scheme should not impede competition and innovation, and should not disadvantage Australian media content and service providers in international markets;
-Classification regulation should be kept to the minimum needed to achieve a clear public purpose, and should be clear in its scope and application;
-Classification regulation should be focused upon content rather than platform or means of delivery.

The ALRC is currently in the process of writing a discussion paper set for release in September this year, which will contain "detailed ideas and proposals for reform."

Feedback about the principles will still be welcome on the ALRC online discussion forum, which can be found here.

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