Australia Mandating Age Ratings of Websites

Australia’s government is requiring the country’s websites to include ratings of age-appropriateness similar to those used for movies and games. Further, websites deemed only appropriate for those over age 15 will have to be censored by “access controls.”

Australia’s new rules are draconian restrictions of what had previously been a relatively free space: the internet. It is likely to be ineffective, as websites are notoriously difficult to police. As Cord Blomquist and Eli Lehrer argued in their policy analysis of video game rating systems, private, voluntary rating schemes are far more effective than government mandates. As Adam Thierer points out, parents know about and use controls already. They can choose from competing blocking software. They are not forced into the categories that the government assigns.

Australia’s censorship has got to stop. The country’s government has been notoriously limiting freedom on the internet recently. Australia needs to substantially rethink where its technology policy is taking it.