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[FYI] (Fwd) FC: Australians must buy Internet filters, government sa

------- Forwarded message follows -------
Date sent:      	Mon, 20 Dec 1999 09:53:09 -0500
To:             	politech@vorlon.mit.edu
From:           	Declan McCullagh <declan@well.com>
Subject:        	FC: Australians must buy Internet filters, government says
Send reply to:  	declan@well.com


[As idiotic as this proposal is, as described below, I don't see
anything that requires that Australians actually *use* the blocking
software they are forced to buy. Maybe that'll be next. --DBM]


Date: Sun, 19 Dec 1999 12:05:19 -0500
To: Declan McCullagh <declan@well.com>
From: Barry Steinhardt <Barrys@aclu.org>


Australia is teaching a sobering lesson to all of those who argue that
the promotion of filtering and blocking software will ward off direct
government censorship. To the contrary, it has provided the government
of that "free" nation with the technological tools of censorship which
can be forced on users.

Below is a release from Electronic Frontiers Australia, which details
the latest devlopments.

It is worth noting that similar proposals are being seriously
considered in Western Europe.

Barry Steinhardt

>Date: Sun, 19 Dec 1999 18:58:11 +1000
>From: Irene Graham <rene@pobox.com>
>To: gilc-plan@gilc.org
>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
>         http://www.aba.gov.au/about/public_relations/newrel_99/134nr
>         99.htm
>IIA Code
>         http://www.iia.net.au/code6.html
>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."
>         http://www.dcita.gov.au/nsapi-text/?MIval=dca_dispdoc&ID=422
>         6
>Office of Film and Literature Classification
>         http://www.oflc.gov.au/
>Conservative, Bible-Belt communities, are helping to set the
>standards for what students in more cosmopolitan places are allowed
>to see:
>r-edu. html
>  (registration required)
>Censorware Project (detailed studies of filtering products)
>         http://www.censorware.org/
>An EFA study of Internet Sheriff
>         http://www.efa.org.au/Publish/report_isheriff.html

Barry Steinhardt				212 549 2508 (v)
Associate Director				212 549 2656 (f)
American Civil Liberties Union		Barrys@aclu.org
125 Broad Street
New York, NY 10004				http://www.aclu.org

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