Förderverein Informationstechnik und Gesellschaft

Australian Internet Censorship legislation introduce

------- Forwarded Message Follows -------
Date:          Tue, 20 Apr 1999 23:44:37 -0500
From: (Greg Taylor)
Subject:       Australian Internet Censorship legislation introduced 

Despite earlier assurances that an exposure draft would be released,
the Australian Government introduced its net censorship Bill into
Parliament today.  Provocative media release from Senator Alston below
refers. Protecting the children (TM) is the theme, and of course it
will do nothing of the sort, but will treat adults like children.

The Second Reading Speech is here:

The Bill itself (68 page Word document) is here:

A sad day for Australia.



Legislation introduced to protect children online 

The Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts,
Senator Richard Alston, today introduced legislation to protect
Australian children from illegal and highly offensive material online.

'The Broadcasting Services Amendment (Online Services) Bill 1999 meets
the Australian community's legitimate concern to control the
publication of illegal and offensive material online, but without
placing onerous or unjustifiable burdens on the internet industry and
thus inhibiting the development of the online economy,' Senator Alston

'The Bill fully implements the Government's announcement of last
month. Contrary to suggestions by the ALP, the Government has not
"backed down" from its responsibility to protect the nation's
children, nor will it. 

'It is the Australian Labor Party which is failing in its obligation
to the nation's children. 

'Labor must now stop its stupid political posturing on this issue and
confirm that it will support measures to stop paedophiles, drug
pushers, bomb makers and racists from using the internet to spread
their poison. 

'The issue is very simple: Labor either supports measures to protect
children from paedophiles and drug pushers on the internet or Labor
does not support the need to protect children. 

'Which is it?' 

The main elements of the proposed framework are that: 
a complaints mechanism will be established in which any person can
complain to the Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) about
offensive material online; 

material that will trigger action by the ABA will be defined, on the
basis of current National Classification Board guidelines, as material
Refused Classification and rated X, and material rated R that is not
protected by adult verification procedures; 

the ABA will be given powers to issue notices to service providers
aimed at preventing access to prohibited material which is subject to
a complaint if it is hosted in Australia or, if the material is
sourced overseas, to take reasonable steps to prevent access if
technically feasible and commercially viable, with the "reasonable
steps" to be detailed in an industry Code of Practice to be developed
in consultation with the ABA; 

indemnities will be provided for service providers to protect them
from litigation by customers affected by ABA notices; 

a graduated scale of sanctions against service providers breaching ABA
notices or the legislation will apply; 

the framework will not apply to private or restricted distribution
communications such as Intranets or communications not in a stored
form; however, current provisions of the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth) in
relation to offensive or harassing use of a telecommunications service
will apply in this context; 

a community advisory body will be established to monitor material,
operate a 'hotline' to receive complaints about illegal material and
pass this information to the ABA and police authorities, and advise
the public about options such as filtering software that are available
to address concerns about online content; 

the Commonwealth will be responsible for regulating the activities of
Internet service providers (ISPs) and Internet content hosts (ICHs)
and the Attorney-General will encourage the development of uniform
State and Territory offence provisions complementing the Commonwealth
legislation (including section 85ZE of the Crimes Act) that create
offences for the publication and transmission of prohibited material
by users and content creators. 

Senator Alston said the Government warmly welcomed the responsible
attitude of the Australian internet industry to the need for online
protection measures, and the industry's cooperation with the ABA in
formulating the necessary Code of Practice - which is expected to be
finalised by the end of this year. 

'This Bill does not remove the responsibility of parents, guardians or
individuals to manage their - and their children's - use of the
Internet. The Government encourages parents to make full use of
filtering software or filtered search engines, and to take the time to
inform themselves about the different types of filter available,'
Senator Alston said. 

'A good place to start is the Family Website developed by the ABA
( which includes information for children,
teenagers and parents about using the internet, and provides links to
sites which offer downloadable filtering software. 

'But the regulation of illegal material cannot be left to parents

'The Bill meets the legitimate needs and interests of the community.
But it does so while ensuring industry development is not stifled by
overzealous laws, or inconsistent or unpredictable regimes, which
could result in Australia's economic marginalisation.' 

The Bill and Second Reading Speech are available online from the
What's New section of the Department of Communications, Information
Technology and the Arts website 

Media Contact:
Terry O'Connor, Minister's office 0419 636 879
21 April 1999