Govt to review X-rated phone content

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The provision of illegal or offensive material on mobile phones has come under review, with the federal government considering its regulation of audiovisual content on mobile devices.

The Federal Department of Communications, IT and the Arts has released a discussion paper and called for public comment as part of its review into the handling of illegal or offensive content on mobile phones and other mobile devices, according to a press release.

The government's discussion paper states that, "mobile telephones offer an increasing range of premium rate services like SMS and MMS (Multimedia Message Services), which deliver text based and/or audiovisual content. Some providers also offer other audiovisual content, including access to proprietary network services or the internet. Some of the content available on such services is of an adult nature."

Outgoing Minister for Communications IT and the Arts, Daryl Williams, said in a statement, "The review will examine the application of existing regulatory measures to new and emerging services and services not previously available through mobile communication tools."

Pending the review, Williams said he had directed the Australian Communications Authority (ACA) to regulate access to content that is available on a new premium mobile phone service -- including restricting access by children to content that is unsuitable.

As well as looking at regulation, the discussion paper explains that the review "seeks to understand how new devices operate, the features they will contain and the types of services likely to be offered."

In the press release, Williams also acknowledged the government's awareness of the "considerable social and economic benefits that new communication services will bring."

The review is being conducted in response to findings in the Review of the Online Content Scheme which, according to the statement, "emphasised the need to ensure ongoing protection of children from inappropriate or offensive content."

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