12.1 This chapter is about prohibitions on the distribution of Prohibited content. ‘Prohibited’ is the term that the ALRC recommends should replace the existing ‘Refused Classification’ (RC) category to describe content that is essentially ‘banned’ in Australia. The scope of this category is discussed in Chapter 11.

12.2 Although media regulation in Australia has seen a significant shift from censorship to classification, there remains content that is illegal to distribute. The new National Classification Scheme should continue to provide for the identification of this content, and allow for various means of prohibiting its distribution.

12.3 The ALRC recommends that the Classification of Media Content Act should provide that content providers must not sell, screen, provide online, or otherwise distribute Prohibited content. Content providers will therefore need to identify, or take reasonable steps to identify, Prohibited content.

12.4 This chapter also discusses when Prohibited content should be classified for the purpose of enforcing these prohibitions. The ALRC recommends that, generally, the content should be classified by the Classification Board before the Regulator or other law enforcement body takes enforcement action. However, the Classification of Media Content Act should enable the Regulator to notify Australian or international law enforcement agencies or bodies about Prohibited content without having the content first classified by the Classification Board.

12.5 Finally, the chapter outlines the main methods of restricting access to Prohibited content, namely: prohibitions on sale and distribution; prohibitions on import and export; prohibitions on publication online; and voluntary and mandatory internet filtering. The Classification of Media Content Act, or industry codes made under it, should provide for similar methods of prohibiting the distribution of Prohibited content.