University of New South Wales
Unlike the previous generations, individuals today are not merely consuming media online, but creating their own material and sharing it among a wide and global audience. The use of the internet is characterised by increased participation and interaction among users who use it to express themselves. The availability and affordability, and apparent anonymity provided by the internet provides an ideal space to share one’s fantasies, some of which may be regarded as deviant. Of concern is that the criminal law law has not caught up with the way in which individuals are using the new digital communication technologies to share this content, as highlighted by the potential criminalisation of young people who create material containing sexually explicit themes under the child abuse materials legislation. Accordingly, the proposed presentation seeks to discuss the types of user-generated content that are problematic in law and how this affects the freedom of expression rights of creators and consumers. It is particularly concerned with self-produced media content in the form of fan fiction stories and deviant forms of art, both of which have become a popular mode of expression, especially for young people. As will be discussed, some of this material contains sexually themes that trigger the child abuse material legislation, thus highlighting the law’s unintended consequences and its chilling effects on expression.
Hadeel Al-Alosi is an academic lecturer in the Faculty of Law at the University of New South Wales. She was one of the first graduates of UNSW’s Criminology and Criminal Justice/Law program and now a solicitor of the Supreme Court of New South Wales. As well as lecturer, Hadeel is currently a Doctoral Candidate. Her research is concerned with user-generated media and Australia’s criminal laws.