Australia Mobile Porn Faces Stiff Regulation

Gretchen Gallen
SYDNEY – As mobile phone carriers and content providers begin gearing up for what promises to be substantial market demand for mobile porn, the Australian Communications Authority stepped up its plans to protect underage mobile users from accessing illicit material via SMS and mobile carrier portals.

The ACA proposed regulations this week on adult and premium mobile services, banning all mobile content that is either not properly classified or which has been refused classification by film or video censors. The ACA also plans to issue warning notices demanding that mobile content that does not abide by regulatory terms be disabled immediately.

Premium mobile content includes games, wallpaper, streaming content, audio, sports replays and mobile ringtones.

Additionally, the ACA instituted a policy that adult content that is properly classified as such will be relegated to numbers prefixed 195 and 196 and that anyone wishing to gain access to these mobile porn channels must prove their age with a photo ID and a written request.

“Our intention is to promote a sustainable and responsible market for premium services accessed by mobiles,” Acting ACA Chairman Dr. Bob Horton said. “The proposed new rules address community expectations about preventing explicit adult content being accessed on mobile phones and restricting access to other adult content to people who are 18 and over."

Mobile carriers will be required by the ACA to fully inform users on the cost of accessing mobile porn in order to avoid fraudulent billing and consumer complaints over unexpectedly high phone bills.

The ACA has also applied pressure to the country's largest telecommunications companies like Optus, Vodafone and Telstra to implement its age-restriction policy on mobile content by the time the regulations are finalized in early 2005.

Mobile phone companies will also be required to hire and train specialized moderators to patrol the airwaves in search of pedophiles in mobile chat rooms.

The ACA has called for public feedback on its proposed mobile regulations and public meetings will be held regarding the effectiveness of the regulations for consumerss and mobile providers.

“This is a completely new area of regulation and the ACA is very keen to have as much feedback as possible on the proposed new rules,” Dr. Horton said.

The ACA was established in 1997 under the Australian Communications Authority Act and is responsible for regulating the telecommunications industry and providing consumer protection.