Aust Govt Adds Video Games To Proposed Web Filter

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Aust Govt Adds Video Games To Proposed Web Filter

stephen-conroy-mugshotThe Australian Federal Government has revealed plans to extend its internet filter plan to include computer and video games.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the proposed legislation will “block websites hosting and selling video games that are not suitable for 15 year olds.”

This potentially includes:

* a local or overseas website selling a game that has been refused classification locally, meaning for example that a website selling the previously banned Silent Hill: Homecoming may have found itself blocked

* browser-based or downloadable games and any website hosting such games that contain content that would be refused classification

* massively multiplayer games also containing content that would be refused classification

A spokesperson from the office of Stephen Conroy, Minister for Communications, told the SMH that the filter would cover “computer games such as web-based flash games and downloadable games, if a complaint is received and the content is determined by ACMA to be Refused Classification.”

Quite how this system will work when it’s based on “complaints”, we’re not sure.

In determining whether any online content might be refused classification, the ACMA would refer to the Classification Act, which states that MA15+ is the highest category before content is refused classification.

But where does this leave MMOs and other online games that, at present, are not required to be classified by the Classification Board?

Speaking to Kotaku, Ron Curry, head of the Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia, said of the proposal:

“No filter is or can be 100% successful in stopping access to online digital content as the methods for disseminating digital content are constantly evolving. If parents hold a solid belief that ISP level filtering removes the possibility of accessing inappropriate content, there is a real and significant risk they will not undertake appropriate supervision and education of the online conduct of minors.

“This proposal simply provides another example of the gap in the current legislation. Hopefully this will provide concerned adults with another reason to take the time and effort to reply to the Government’s upcoming discussion paper on the R18+ Classification issue.”

The government’s internet filter is currently under trial with a number of ISPs. The policy has not yet been introduced.

Web filters to censor video games [SMH]

Comments

    • You have got to be f$&#ing kidding me.

      So, essentially EVERY online retailer will be banned because they allow us to import games that have been refused classification?

      Every Flash portal will be blocked because they may have R18+ content?

      This is utterly ridiculous.

  • When Will the Madness End… Does this mean they will also Ban Websites that review Games that are refused Classification here so we never find out they exist, because “You can not miss something you have never heard of” can you

  • Haven’t they woken up yet?

    This plan is not in any way feasible. The more they talk about it the more it appears as blatant censorship.

    In conclusion conroy and his bunch of clowns please GTFO.

    • no shit!! did krudd turn us into a communist country? i could understand and would fully support if they wanted to block kiddy pron and extremist websites but this is just getting out of control! how the hell can these morons justify censoring what seems like half the internet? i gotta say, if liberal were to come out and say they would can this BS for good at the next election i would probably consider finally registering to vote! (i’m 31 and have never voted)

  • its not like its going to succeed anyway(the whole thing i mean).

    however in this new policy, at the very least i would think federal law being applied to block fair trading for web based vendors would be against our trade practices within Australia or at the very least our free trade agreements with countries like USA.

    Steven Conroy just keeps digging a hole though. freedom of speech groups will certainly be on him over a censorship policy that is getting increasingly further away from its original intent. blocking ILLEGAL sites and moving to a far more dangerous policy of blocking undesirable sites as well.

    • Now there’s a thought… We lodge a complaint about refused classification games being able to be bought on Ebay, the ACMA adds Ebay to their filter and we sit back to see how long it takes for our mate Steve to be out on his ear.

  • Utterly ridiculous. Stephen Conroy is the worst thing the happen to the Australian Parliament. Ever.

    So essentially every online retailer will be blocked.

    • No kidding right – at least in other countries the internets quick enough to deal with the fact that ‘Uh no – this is illegal – FAIL!’ .. here – hell good luck to anyone ever wanting to expect half decent internet usage again..

      Is it wrong to want to shoot him? 😛

    • You don’t need to move you just gotta not vote for Labor next year. This thing is the ALP’s baby, take them out of government we take out the filter.

      Liberals have always been against this, this issue first came about way back 2004. They were against it in government and they have been in opposition.

  • It’s things like this that have resulted in me becoming so irritated with politics that I plan to just vote for the sex party next election.

  • Not really going to do them much good, if they invest all the millions of dollars into this it’s just going to be circumvented anyway. I don’t really understand what the government is trying to gain from all the censorship, they claim it’s to protect children… But there isn’t much difference between a MA15+ game & a potential R18+ game, if the parent/s let the child see the content the harm is already prevalent. A better course of action would be TV/print ads informing parents of the content available in games & online, and putting the onus back on them. It’s up to the parents to protect their children from contemporary media!

  • Let him know how you feel, people: [email protected]
    Of course, I get the impression he already knows and doesn’t care. He’ll just put his hands over his ears, go “la la la” and continue to think about the children.

  • *slaps head*
    I just figured it out. The guys like Andrew Bolt – he’s just attempting to cause controversy to build publicity. Who knows if he even believes this stuff.

    It’s a monster we can’t fight people.

  • I hope this backfires. Think about it like this. If the liberal party had any common sense, they would take the focus off filtering, and focus their resources on painting the labor party as anti-gamer.

    I’m a gamer, and I like to buy stuff from overseas websites. Therefore, I will not vote labor.

  • Wonder if it’s the same complaint based system they use for adverts?

    Because that’s going to work great.

    Some kids on his mobile to one of his mates saying how he totally killed this dude on couterstrike, his grandma overhears and rings a toll free number… it’s going to be just great.

  • “..if a complaint is received..”
    BULLSH**!!!!
    It’s whatever they want.

    They going to block ebay too?
    Maybe I’ll jump on it now and grab a copy of postal 😐

  • Oh come on… really? How about we create a seperate internet to the rest of the world! No traffic in or out! would solve this mess once and for all.

    -.-

  • Seems like Stephen just found out about the whole UK Rapelay controversy and to make up for being extremely late to the party he made sure he brought a slab.

    Doesn’t being ‘refused classification’ mean that it’s illegal to sell in Australia, but not to own? Trying to get international retailers to comply with Australia’s backwards censorship regulations is asinine at best.

    Let’s hope the current balance of power in the senate is maintained. As long as the current senators hold their positions, any legislation to bring in mandatory censorship will not pass.

  • So, anyone want to own up to voting these clowns into office? I know I didn’t.

    This, the internet censoring thing in general, still no R18+ for games, these stupid cash bonuses that have left us in huge debt after being in comfortable surplus – oh yeah this government’s doing a cracking job.

  • SLAP! Check your sources, Kotaku.

    If you refer to the SMH article you’ll see it doesn’t cite a policy, statement, or press release but instead refers to a staffer “confirming”. Combine that with the repeated references to the “internet villain” tidbit and it’s pretty clear what’s happened is SMH’s Mr Moses has rung Conroy’s office looking for comment on the nomination, run a bunch of of questions past a random staffer, and got a bite. This isn’t (yet) policy, it’s one staffer giving an “I imagine so” answer without understanding the ramifications.

    Contacted the IEAA? You shouldn’t be running this stuff until you’ve gone to Conroy yourself.

    • Greg, we’re reporting on the SMH story, which quotes multiple sources – including the minister’s office. We’ve not been able to elicit a comment ourselves from the minister’s office, but we have received comment on the issue from our relevant industry body, the IEAA. I fail to see the problem here.

    • Ashley Moses would have possibly used the answers that Senator Conroy gave to parliament a week or two ago that were in reply to the Questions on Notice that he was asked specifically a few months earlier. It took him that long to give the answer/s.

      http://www.aph.gov.au/hansard/senate/dailys/ds220609.pdf

      Start reading from page 90 onwards for the gory details. Hansard is a word for word written recording of all proceedings of each and every session of parliament.

      So no, Ashley Moses wasn’t making this up – most of it came from the mouth of Conroy himself.

  • In fact, it’s almost certainly in response to this article: http://www.smh.com.au/technology/internet-filter-445m-and-no-goal-in-sight-20090615-c8t1.html

    In which the key term “Refused Classification (RC) materials” is used. There appears to be a confusion between materials classified under the Classification Board, which are film and computer games for the domestic market, and materials classified by the Australian Communications Media Authority (ACMA) which is classifying sites for the filter.

    It’s not the same process but clearly Conroy’s staffer (possibly Tim Marshall) is confused on this. When he’s been asked, “Including video games that have been refused classification?” he’s responded, “Yes”.

    It could be that Conroy’s brutally confused on this but more likely we should be looking for a retraction/clarification in the next week.

    • Greg, you do raise an interesting point here regarding the authority of the ACMA and the Classification Board. Ultimately, the Broadcasting Services Act – under which the ACMA operates – defers to the Classification Act. If something is a game (even if it is online) and it needs to be assessed, the BSA says to use the Classification Act requirements to determine if something is prohibited or potentially prohibited content. The BSA also says that if an online game is exactly the same as one that has been classified (as a boxed copy) by the Board, it automatically carries that classification. So in assessing an online game under the BSA, it’s either G, PG, M, MA15+ or RC. R18+ doesn’t exist.

  • WTF! Which party did I vote for? I thought we got rid of the conservative right wing nutjobs. Total deal breaker for me election-wise.

    • Damed if you do, damned if you don’t. Do I vote for the right-wing conservative nutjobs with union ties, or those without? Democracy could still use some work.

  • Yay, I’m happy for this news. First time the AU comments section has gotten decent use on kotaku for ages!

    Otherwise, boo, dang asshats running the country but I don’t take responsibilty, I’ve never voted for any party during the past 15 years. Natty bunch of dopey shonks would all make great used car salesmen/women.
    Its really becomming uncomfortable living in Oz these last few years, feels like a sinking ship.

  • I grew up in Australia, and have always loved it.

    This however, disgusts me. And no, this isn’t because I’m some freaking nerd who spends every waking hour looking up 18+ shit, but because this is blatant and disgusting censorship.

    All that needs more censoring are file-sharing websites, and that’s basically impossible.

    Freedom of speech is allowed, and is guaranteed by our Commonwealth. Or at least, it should be.

    My opinion? If they’re gonna waste taxpayers money on this, they should make it optional, sort of. Make it so that parents can organise it for their home computers.

    But really, it shouldn’t be happening. For instance, even if they are stupid enough to put the field up, proxy sites would still get through. The only people punished are sites like Kotaku which might get blocked for mentioning the term ’18+’ without the correct paperwork.

  • If it does work it won’t work for long. They will just find anyway. This is the parents’ job to WATCH their kids, if they screw up they’re bad parents. Let the government worry about REAL problems. Give an R rating already.

  • Don’t forget that linking to a blacklisted site is a $10k a day fine, so if you link to an importers website…….
    Time to start lobbying the coalition and independents. If they vote no, the legislation won’t get through.

  • Does the government seriously want to push the IT and gaming community into resorting into a coup d’état??
    And on a side note what about file hosting webs like MU,RS, MF and ZOMGU?? I still want my anime >.>

  • Do we hear the “liberal” party raising any objections? No. They’re in bed with the Jesus Fascists (which, may I add, does NOT refer to all Christians).

    Unfortunately, almost every political party in Australia that WOULD oppose this evil scheme are raving socialist lunatics with no grasp of economics; who think that “deregulation” caused this recession (which is patently false; it was caused by central bank credit expansion combined with political encouragement of home ownership and taking out mortgages.

    The only party that will defend individual rights, BOTH economic and personal ones, is the Liberal Democratic Party or LDP (www.ldp.org.au). I recommend all gamers check them out.

  • This is surely a joke.

    I have had enough of this Conroy bullshit.

    You contact Conroy here:

    [email protected]

    Parliamentary office

    Suite MG70
    Parliament House
    Canberra ACT 2600

    Tel: 02 6277 7480
    Fax: 02 6273 4154

    Ministerial office

    Level 4, 4 Treasury Place
    Melbourne Vic 3002

    Tel: 03 9650 1188
    Fax: 03 9650 3251

    Electorate office

    Suite 1B
    494 High St
    Epping Vic 3076

    Tel: 03 9408 0190
    Fax: 03 9408 0194

  • I can understand the complaint system, as it will ACMA to develop a filter for finding content which should be blocked using human agents rather than a set computer filter.

    But… does this mean that ACMA will be doing the job of the Classification Board in terms of games? How many more government departments will it act as when it comes to net material?

  • I just recently talked to a Director at the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service. He said that importing games (that is, to buy and attempt to bring into the country) that have been refused classification is illegal anyway. In fact, they regularly check imported video games against the OFLC’s classifications (or refusal thereof) to check their legality.

    Hence, this proposal doesn’t extend the law much further than it already stands. The only extensions, it seems, would be blanket-banning of websites that export games to Australia regardless of their content and the banning of games downloaded from the internet that have been refused classification.

    When the rubber hits the road, the people affected by such a law would be those who import games from import-anything websites and people who download their refused-classification games. I suspect that this is not a large proportion of the video-game-playing population (though I myself fit into the former category).

    That said, I’d love to see how they treat eBay.

  • This shit is seriously all wrong. A great force is behind pushing our ratings system further, for great reason, this is the totally wrong FUCKING direction.

  • I don’t know about everyone else but I’ll be very interested in what my local liberal representative has to say about this scheme next federal election if it makes it in.

    Sheesh, the workplace agreements don’t seem so bad now, atleast when I got home I could still do what I wanted without the government peeking it’s head around the corner to check up on me.

  • There is a need for this! Having worked in IT at a primary school, many parents always ask the question of how to prevent thier kids getting access to filth. The ISP needs to be the filter.

    The question is though, is the filter an option for parents or are we all going under the rule?

    Think of the children… not the teens.

  • You know what? I’m going to complain about Age of Conan if this filter eve4r becomes real that game has some objectionable content and isn’t rated by the OFLC, then let’s see what happens when people can buy a game in a store but can’t actually play it.

  • It seems like we no-longer have freedom of speech.
    So now I’m not only told what I can and can’t play, but also what I can’t look at on the internet?

    What’s next telling me what time I have to go to bed?

    This is ridiculous, sooner or later something’s gotta give.

  • I’d hate to be considered treasonous or anything, but a raging horde of gamers will overthrow them in some fashion if the goes through as is.

    The only reason these changes would need to be is because the parents arent paying enough attention as is.

    All thats going to happen is you’ll have pissed off kids, pissed off adults, lazier parents, and more pissed off adults at the little shits that lazy parents raise.

  • I voted these buggers in, now I’ll vote them out. Liberal Party sux but ths sux more. vote Libs and say bye bye labour.

  • okay. instead of complaining about it, why dont we all look at trying to get information about the paper being discussed so that comments about how these restrictions will affect adult gamers who are the majority here.

    The save the children argument doesnt even rate 0.1 in this discussion as the parents should have a clue about what their kids are doing on the internet.

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