Förderverein Informationstechnik und Gesellschaft

ACTION ALERT - Australian Internet Censorship

------- Forwarded Message Follows -------
Date:          Wed, 31 Mar 1999 04:37:43 +1000
From:          "felipe rodriquez" <>
Subject:       ACTION ALERT - Australian Internet Censorship
To:            "Gilc-Plan@Gilc. Org" <>

Please help distribute and send this to your contacts:

---<start of message>---

From:	Electronic Frontiers Australia (
Subject: ACTION ALERT - Australian Internet Censorship 

*** Please redistribute, but only before April 30th 1999   ***
*** and only to appropriate newsgroups, lists and contacts ***


Please send the message attached below the -<cut here>- mark
at the bottom of this message to your local member, and to these

and fax numbers: 	+61 2 6273 4154
   +61 3 9650 0220
   +61 2 6277 8520
   +61 2 6273 4100
   +61 2 6277 8495
   +61 2 9334 7799
   +61 2 6273 4128
   +61 2 6273 4122
   +61 2 6273 4117

From: 	Electronic Frontiers Australia

        Sydney 31st March 1999



The Australian ministry for Communications, Information Technology and
the Arts has announced a proposal to introduce draconian measures to
block information on the internet that is rated RC, X or R according
to Australian film and video classification standards. The Australian
Broadcasting Authority (ABA) will administer this regime.

The Australian Government requires that online service providers take
responsibility to remove RC and X-rated material from the Internet
once they have been notified of its existence. The regime also
provides for self-regulatory codes of practice for the online service
provider industry, to be overseen by the ABA. These codes of practice
must include a commitment by an online service provider to take all
reasonable steps to block access to such content hosted overseas, once
the service provider has been notified of the existence of the
material by the ABA. Many millions of websites are likely to be
blocked if the proposals are effectively implemented.

RC rated content, to be completely censored from the Internet under
this regime, includes, but is not limited to, the following types of
content: Information that depicts, expresses or otherwise deals with
matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence or
revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a way that they offend
against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally
accepted by reasonable adults, depicts it in a way that is likely to
cause offence to a reasonable adult. Or if the content promotes,
incites or instructs in matters of crime or violence, the use of
proscribed drugs, depictions of practices such as bestiality. Or if it
appears to purposefully debase or abuse for the enjoyment of viewers,
and which lack moral, artistic or other values, to the extent that
they offend against generally accepted standards of morality, decency
and propriety. And also includes gratuitous, exploitative or offensive
depictions of violence with a very high degree of impact or which are
excessively frequent, prolonged or detailed, cruelty or real violence
which are very detailed or which have a high impact, sexual violence,
sexual activity accompanied by fetishes or practices which are
offensive or abhorrent, incest fantasies or other fantasies which are
offensive or abhorrent.

X-rated content, to be completely censored from the Internet under
this regime, is material which contains real depictions of actual
sexual intercourse and other sexual activity between consenting
adults, including mild fetishes.

R-rated content, to be subjected to a mandatory adult verification
scheme, includes information about, or containing,  drug use, nudity,
sexual references, adult themes, horror themes, martial arts
instruction, graphic images of injuries, medium or high level coarse
language, sex education, health education and drug education.


If you care about your ability to speak on the Internet, read from the
Internet, and exchange ideas on the Internet, without the Australian
government deciding for you, it's time to act before these proposals
become law.

Please take some time to speak out against this government action, by
signing and then E-mailing or faxing the attached letter the minister
for communications, and other relevant people. For your convenience we
have added some addresses:

Richard Alston, Minister for communications, IT and the Arts
Fax: +61 (0)2 6273 4154 AND +61 (0)3 9650 0220

Stephen Smith, labor Shadow Minister for communications, IT and the
Arts Fax: +61 (0)2 6277 8520

Timothy Fischer, Deputy Prime Minister; Minister for Trade 
Fax: +61 (02) 6273 4128

Jocelyn Newman, Minister for Family and Community Services 
Fax: +61 (02) 6273 4122

Dr David Kemp, Minister for Education, Training and Youth Affairs Fax: +61 (02)6273 4117

John Howard, Prime Minister
Fax: +61 (0)2 6273 4100

Kim Beazley, leader of the opposition
Fax: +61 (0)2 6277 8495

David Flint, Chairman of the ABA
Fax: +61 (0)2 9334 7799

MENTIONED ABOVE ----------------------<cut


Dear Senator Alston,

I consider that the following issues are important with respect to the
Internet censorship proposals of the Australian government:

The filtering and blocking regime that has been announced by the
Australian government will restrict freedom of expression and limit
access to information. Government-mandated use of blocking and
filtering systems violates basic international human rights

These measures will prevent individuals from using the Internet to
exchange information on topics that may be controversial or unpopular.
They may enable the development of country profiles to facilitate a
global/universal rating system desired by governments, block access to
content on entire domains, block access to Internet content available
at any domain or page which contains a specific key-word or character
string in the URL, and over-ride self-rating labels provided by
content creators and providers.

Government mandated blocking and filtering of content is unreasonable
because it does not consider the dynamic nature of the Internet. A
website on the Internet that is deemed offensive or illegal today may
contain harmless content tomorrow, but is likely to remain blocked in
the future by the proposed blacklist model.

The effectiveness of the proposed regime will be minimal. It is
unlikely that the government blacklist will cover a substantial
percentage of adult or offensive content, as there are millions of
such locations on the Internet. Tunneling and other technologies that
are available make it relatively easy for informed users to access any
website they wish despite the existence of a filter.

The proposals will not protect minors on the Internet, as they intend
to, but will prevent lawful access to information by adults.
Additionally the introduction of mandatory adult verification
mechanisms poses a threat to privacy of the adult, as these mechanisms
are likely to store information about the behavior of adults on the

I believe the great appeal of the Internet is its openness. Efforts to
restrict the free flow of information on the Internet, like efforts to
restrict what may be said on a telephone, would place unreasonable
burdens on well established principles of privacy and free speech.

I encourage the Australian government to further take the lead in
creating an environment that will help local communities find the best
answers to providing greater access to the Internet. I observe that
blocking and filtering software programs cannot possibly filter out
all objectionable material and instead may provide communities with a
false sense of security about providing access. I believe that filters
cannot offer the protections provided by education and training. If
protection of minors is the intention of the Australian government
then minors should be taught the critical skills that are needed as
citizens of the information society.

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