Budget communications funding targets online scams, safeguards children

By AdNews | 15 May 2024
Credit: Kai Pilger via Unsplash

The federal budget has a communications focus on tackling scams, improving safeguards for children online and narrowing the digital gap for First Nations communities. 

Investments of $1.3 billion over four years will see an upgraded National Broadband Network (NBN) and stronger measures in place to protect against scams, reduce potential harm from gambling-like content in computer games, tackle exposure to age-inappropriate content online, and progress First Nations digital inclusion. 

ACMA (Australian Communications and Media Authority) gets funding to bolster new mandatory industry rules on banks, telcos and digital platforms.

The body will receive $12.4 million over four years to oversee the review and improve existing scam call and SMS code for telcos, and boost enforcement action to prevent, detect and disrupt scams. 

For First Nations, $48 million will deliver additional free community Wi-Fi in remote communities, establish a First Nations Digital Support Hub and a network of digital mentors to develop digital capability and support safe use, and improve the national collection of data on First Nations digital inclusion. 

Improving protections for children online by committing funding to progress an age assurance trial. 

The $6.5 million will fund a trial to test different technologies and age assurance approaches, including in relation to privacy and security requirements. 

This will help inform the existing work of Australia’s eSafety Commissioner under the Online Safety Act – including through the development of industry codes or standards – to reduce children’s exposure to age-inappropriate material. 

Parents will be helped to make more informed choices about the computer games their children play, with new rules for games containing gambling-like features coming into effect from September 2024. 

Spending will include $1  million over two years for education and awareness of new mandatory minimum classifications for gambling-like content in computer games. 

The classifications mean that from September, computer games containing in-game purchases linked to elements of chance – such as paid loot boxes – will receive a minimum classification of M (Mature – not recommended for children under 15 years of age), while games containing simulated gambling will receive a minimum classification of R 18+ (legally restricted to adults aged 18 or older).

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