Illegal and offensive online content is regulated through the Online Content Scheme under Schedule 5 and 7 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 through a complaints-based mechanism. The Scheme is designed to protect consumers, particularly children, from exposure to inappropriate or harmful material.
The Scheme applies to content accessed through the internet, mobile phones and convergent devices, and applies to content delivered through emerging content services such as subscription-based internet portals, chat rooms, live audio-visual streaming, and link services.
Under Schedule 7, prohibited content includes content that has been classified or is likely to be classified:
- RC (refused classification)
- R18+ unless it is subject to a restricted access system
- MA15+ and is provided on a commercial basis (i.e. for a fee) unless it is subject to a restricted access system.
These prohibitions are backed by strong sanctions for non-compliance including criminal penalties for serious offences.
Where content is hosted in Australia and is found by the Children’s eSafety Commissioner (the Commissioner) to be prohibited, the Commissioner has the authority to direct the relevant content service provider to remove the content from their service. Where content is not hosted in Australia and is prohibited, the Commissioner will notify the content to the suppliers of approved filters, so that access to the content using such filters is blocked.
In addition, regardless of where the content is hosted, if the Commissioner considers the content to be of a sufficiently serious nature, it must notify the content to an Australian police force.
Schedule 7 includes a complaints-based mechanism administered by the Commissioner. Information, including instructions for making a complaint to the Commissioner, is available at the eSafety Hotline website.
Complaints may be lodged by completing the online form at www.esafety.gov.au/complaints-and-reporting/offensive-and-illegal-content-complaints.
See also the Voicing your concern page for a summary of the procedures for making a complaint about content on the internet, television and radio.