[LINK] A tween-net

Jan Whitaker jwhit at janwhitaker.com
Thu Jun 25 21:32:12 EST 2009

[get ready for kiddie net, folks]


Asher Moses

June 25, 2009 - 5:05PM

The Federal Government has now set its sights on gamers, promising to 
use its internet censorship regime to block websites hosting and 
selling video games that are not suitable for 15 year olds. [!!!!!!!]

Separately, the Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, has been 
nominated by the British ISP industry for its annual 
villain" award, competing alongside the European Parliament and 
French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Australia is the only developed country without an R18+ 
classification for games, meaning any titles that do not meet the 
MA15+ standard - such as those with excessive violence or sexual 
content - are simply banned from sale by the Classification Board, 
unless they are modified to remove the offending content.

So far, this has only applied to local bricks-and-mortar stores 
selling physical copies of games, but a spokesman for Senator Conroy 
confirmed that under the filtering plan, it will be extended to 
downloadable games, flash-based web games and sites which sell 
physical copies of games that do not meet the MA15+ standard.

This means that even Australians who are aged above 15 and want to 
obtain the adult-level games online will be unable to do so. . It 
will undoubtedly raise the ire of gamers, the average age of which is 
30 in Australia, according to research commissioned by the 
Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia.

Colin Jacobs, spokesman for the online users' lobby group Electronic 
Frontiers Australia, said the Government clearly went far beyond any 
mandate it had from the public to help parents deal with cyber-safety.

He said Australians would soon learn this the hard way when they find 
web pages mysteriously blocked.

"This is confirmation that the scope of the mandatory censorship 
scheme will keep on creeping," said Mr Jacobs.

"Far from being the ultimate weapon against child abuse, it now will 
officially censor content deemed too controversial for a 15-year-old. 
In a free country like ours, do we really need the government to step 
in and save us from racy web games?"

Senator Conroy's spokesman said 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". All games that exceed MA15+ are deemed to be RC.

The filtering could also block "the importation of physical copies of 
computer games sold over the internet which have been classified RC", 
the spokesman said.

Ron Curry, chief executive of the IEAA, said the move highlighted the 
"unacceptable situation" of not having an R18+ classification for 
video games. The industry has been fighting for changes to 
classification laws for years.

"It's through the introduction of an R18+ classification that adults 
will have access to age appropriate material and parents will have 
the full tool kit to understand the suitability of content for their 
children," he said.

Mark Newton, an ISP engineer and internet filtering critic, said the 
move to extend the filtering to computer games would place a cloud 
over online-only games such as World of Warcraft and Second Life, 
which aren't classified in Australia due to their online nature.

He said the online distribution of such games has historically been 
exempt from customs controls on RC material because they have only 
ever covered physical articles.

"That exemption is the only reason why multi-player games with 
user-generated environments are possible in this country; without it, 
it'd only take one game user anywhere in the world to produce 
objectionable content in the game environment to make the Australian 
Government ban the game for everyone," said Newton.

Nine ISPs are trialling the web censorship plan, which will block all 
content that has been "refused classification" by ACMA. Results of 
the trials are due to be published in July.

In Britain, Senator Conroy was nominated for the annual internet 
villain award "for continuing to promote network-level blocking 
despite significant national and international opposition", George 
White, press officer with Britain's Internet Services Providers' 
Association, said.

"We would be delighted if Mr Conroy wishes to attend the Awards and 
collect the trophy should he win," Mr White said.

Senator Conroy's spokesman refused to comment on the award

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
jwhit at janwhitaker.com
blog: http://janwhitaker.com/jansblog/
business: http://www.janwhitaker.com

Our truest response to the irrationality of the world is to paint or 
sing or write, for only in such response do we find truth.
~Madeline L'Engle, writer

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