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------- Forwarded message follows -------
Date sent:      	Sun, 19 Dec 1999 18:58:11 +1000
From:           	Irene Graham <rene@pobox.com>
To:             	gilc-plan@gilc.org
Send reply to:  	gilc-plan@gilc.org

                 Electronic Frontiers Australia Inc.

Media Release                                   December 19th 1999


The Federal Government has demonstrated its contempt for the
intelligence and values of Australians, Electronic Frontiers Australia
said today, following the approval of a Code of Practice for Internet
Service Providers.

The new rules require Internet users to purchase an 'Approved Filter'
at a charge determined by their ISP, unless they have already
installed one. There was no public consultation in the choice of
'approved' filtering products.

"In no other media does censorship operate with so little
accountability", said EFA Board member Danny Yee.  "The Government had
promised that the scheme would be complaints-based and that only
material found by the Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) to be
'prohibited' would be blocked, but commercial filtering products block
millions of pages not reviewed by the ABA.  Why has the government
handed over its censorship powers to private companies who are not
accountable to the Australian public?"

"It is particularly worrying that the block lists are secret and that
the sites blocked are not informed that they are being blocked," said
Yee. "This is not consistent with censorship of other media in
Australia. Information about what is banned or restricted by the
Office of Film and Literature Classification is available to the
public -- and parents and citizens would rightly be outraged if books
were secretly removed from school libraries or syllabuses in response
to complaints."

"The approved suppliers are mostly United States companies or
Australian companies reselling United States products under different
names. Such software typically reflects the values of the United
States 'Bible Belt', with some products openly blocking feminist, gay
and lesbian, and left wing political information."

Studies carried out in Australia and overseas have demonstrated that
filtering software causes extensive 'collateral damage', blocking many
innocuous sites.  Some ironic examples are the blocking of the
National Party of Australia site and of Queensland parliamentary
records. And many filtering products censor massive amounts of
valuable information by blocking entire domains such as geocities.com,
ozemail.com.au, or deja.com.

"Trying to force filtering software on unwilling adults will be as
ineffective as it is repugnant", said Yee.  "And only filtering
products that use open blocklists and algorithms -- available for
public scrutiny -- should even be considered for use in schools.  The
process by which products are selected needs to be open and
transparent, not carried out behind closed doors.  And content
providers must be informed when their content is blocked, so they have
a chance to appeal the decision."


      Electronic Frontiers Australia Inc  --  http://www.efa.org.au/
      representing Internet users concerned about on-line freedoms
      Email: mail@efa.org.au  Phone: 02 9255 7969  Fax: 02 9255 7736


ABA registers code of practice

IIA Code

DCITA press release
 "Decisions on content will be made by the NCB based on an
 established classification system. Decisions will not be based
 on personal whim."

Office of Film and Literature Classification 

Conservative, Bible-Belt communities, are helping to set the standards
for what students in more cosmopolitan places are allowed to see:
 (registration required) 

Censorware Project (detailed studies of filtering products)

An EFA study of Internet Sheriff

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