[AusNOG] FW: Aust: 'Coonan seeks to censor the Web'

Skeeve Stevens skeeve at skeeve.org
Thu Sep 20 17:11:53 EST 2007

FYI (excuse excessive cross-post, but of importance to ISP industry)


-----Original Message-----
From: link-bounces at anumail0.anu.edu.au
[mailto:link-bounces at anumail0.anu.edu.au] On Behalf Of Roger Clarke
Sent: Thursday, 20 September 2007 5:04 PM
To: link at anu.edu.au
Subject: [LINK] Aust: 'Coonan seeks to censor the Web'

Coonan seeks to censor the Web
The Australian
Karen Dearne
September 20, 2007

THE Federal Police commissioner will have the power to block and ban 
websites believed to be crime or terrorism related under an internet 
censorship amendment bill introduced into Parliament today.

The bombshell web ban bill was tabled in the Senate at 9:58am, 
without prior notice.

Communications Minister Senator Helen Coonan proposes to expand the 
"black list" of internet addresses (URLs) currently maintained by the 
Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to include 
terrorism and cyber-crime sites.

At present, ACMA has the power to act against websites containing 
pornography or offensive content.

Under the proposed amendment, Federal Police will inform ACMA of 
websites to be blocked, and the agency must then notify the relevant 
internet service providers. ISPs will be required to "take reasonable 
steps" to prevent users accessing the website or content.

Australian Privacy Foundation chair Roger Clarke expressed disbelief 
that "the government of any country in the free world could table a 
Bill of this kind".

"Without warning, the Government, through Senator Coonan, is 
proposing to provide Federal Police with powers to censor the 
internet," Dr Clarke said.

"Even worse, ISPs throughout the country are to be the vehicle for 
censorship, by being required to block internet content."

Greens Senator Kerry Nettle said the Bill would give the Police 
Commissioner "enormous power over what political content Australians 
can look at" on the web.

"This gives the Commissioner sweeping powers which could potentially 
be applied to millions of websites," she said. "The Government has 
dropped the Bill into the Senate on the eve of an election with 
virtually no explanation."

Senator Nettle said environmental organisations such as Greenpeace 
had been accused of crime or terrorism-related actions. "Will the 
Police Commissioner call for Greenpeace's website to be shut down?"

The requirement to filter or block content would impose another 
enormous burden on local ISPs at a time when the IT industry faced 
growing costs related to other national security legislation, she 

Meanwhile, Senator Coonan today extended the Government's $189 
million NetAlert - Protecting Australian Families Online program to 
agencies such as Medicare, Centrelink, Child Support and the Tax 

Information about internet filtering and the free content filters 
from NetAlert will be promoted through the agency shopfronts as part 
of the plan to prevent children accessing inappropriate material 

Roger Clarke                  http://www.anu.edu.au/people/Roger.Clarke/
Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd      78 Sidaway St, Chapman ACT 2611 AUSTRALIA
                    Tel: +61 2 6288 1472, and 6288 6916
mailto:Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au                http://www.xamax.com.au/

Visiting Professor in Info Science & Eng  Australian National University
Visiting Professor in the eCommerce Program      University of Hong Kong
Visiting Professor in the Cyberspace Law & Policy Centre      Uni of NSW
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