[LINK] Aust: 'Coonan seeks to censor the Web'
Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au
Thu Sep 20 17:04:14 EST 2007
Coonan seeks to censor the Web
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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