Regulating the Digital Age.. Can it be achieved?

The introduction of convergent media in particular the internet, has provided many new age challenges regarding media regulation and policy. It has called for the reform of existing policies and the need for new rules and guidelines to be created. The internet is a large domain that includes many fabricated stories and explicit content. Compared to the television and newspaper media industries, the faceless online realm is becoming increasingly difficult to monitor and regulate. The question still remains of how and who should regulate the digital content and social media industries the community view. 

A review of the censorship and classification laws has not been conducted since 1991, well before the convergence of media and the age of the internet occurred. Under section 51 of the current Australian media classification law, the Government can restrict the viewing of books, films and video-tapes. This is an example emphasising the laws and guidelines established in 1991 are not up to date with the technological world, as video-tapes and cassettes are now sometimes considered as fossils and everything can be downloaded on the internet with the click of a button which is why media reform and creating new policy is such a challenge.  

Eight guiding principles have been introduced in the new Classification Scheme, one of these stating the regulatory framework needs to be responsive to technological change and adaptive to new platforms and services. The scheme acknowledges a shift in focus to the online content viewed and advises the public to judge what content they and their children should engage with. Terry Flew, a professor in Media and Communications, introduces on “The Conversation,” the challenges of keeping up with convergent media and the struggle to adapt new policies. Flew suggests the industry needs to play a greater role in classifying content, by also restricting access to some media content based on community standards.  Co-regulatory reforms and educating the community to make informed choices about what media is acceptable are steps to ensuring cyber-safety.      Lauren Northover


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