FC: Australia weighs grandson of CDA: Ban on "inappropriate" content

From: Declan McCullagh (declanat_private)
Date: Sat Nov 17 2001 - 09:58:14 PST

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    From: Irene Graham <igrahamat_private>
    To: Declan McCullagh <declanat_private>
    Subject: EFA Media Release: NSW law would criminalise internet material 
    unsuitable for children
    Date: Sat, 17 Nov 2001 20:49:18 +1000
    Below fyi and politech if you think it would be of interest.
    Regards, Irene
    Media Release from Electronic Frontiers Australia Inc (EFA)
    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - 17 November 2001
    Electronic Frontiers Australia today warned that new Internet censorship
    laws under consideration by NSW Parliament would criminalise Internet
    material unsuitable for children. The legislation is expected to be voted
    on this month.
    The law will cover text and images placed on the web, including email sent
    to mailing lists that are archived on the web, and messages to newsgroups.
    "The Bill criminalises making available information unsuitable for children
    online, even if the content is only made available to adults," said Irene
    Graham, EFA Executive Director. "While a defence is offered, this
    unjustifiably reverses the onus of proof and requires an Internet user to
    defend themself in a court of law. It's doubtful an Internet user could
    prove their innocence using the particular defence. Relevant technological
    matters have been ignored or overlooked."
    Graham said other serious criminal justice issues also need to be
    addressed. "The proposals show an intent to treat ordinary NSW people who
    use the Internet less fairly under criminal law than offline publishers.
    For example, police could commence criminal proceedings against an Internet
    user before online content has even been classified. However, NSW law
    applicable to offline films and publications prevents police from
    commencing prosecution until the material has been classified. Police are
    not trained to apply classification guidelines, nor should they be. No
    useful purpose is served by empowering police to commence criminal
    proceedings on the basis of a wrong guess about the classification."
    In 1996, NSW citizens marched on Parliament after draft Internet censorship
    legislation was leaked. The NSW government subsequently dropped that
    proposal. EFA believes the NSW Government is attempting to rush the latest
    version through Parliament before most citizens even become aware of it.
    "The Bill should be suspended until its full ramifications have been
    investigated, criminal justice issues and practical problems adequately
    addressed, and appropriate amendments made."
    "Failure to give proper consideration to the particular problems presented
    by the Internet in comparison with traditional media censorship will result
    in ineffective and unworkable legislation."
    "The proposed laws will not make it any easier for parents to protect their
    children from offensive material on the worldwide Internet, but they will
    restrict adults' freedom to communicate with each other online."
           Electronic Frontiers Australia Inc  --  http://www.efa.org.au/
           representing Internet users concerned with on-line freedoms
           URL of this release: http://www.efa.org.au/Publish/PR011117.html
           Media Contacts:
           Ms Irene Graham                  Mr Kimberley Heitman
           EFA Executive Director           EFA Chair
           Phone: 0412 997 163              Phone: 0408 881 421
           Email: edat_private             Email: chairat_private
    EFA's comprehensive reference source on the NSW Bill, including links to
    the Bill and a detailed analysis of same, is available at:
    The NSW Bill is part of the second component of the Commonwealth Internet
    censorship legislation (effective 1 January 2000). The NSW Government is
    believed to be the second of the State/Territory Governments to act on the
    Commonwealth Government's request that they enact complementary enforcement
    legislation applicable to Internet users and content providers. (The
    Commonwealth legislation applies to Internet Service Providers and Internet
    Content Hosts, not Internet users and content providers).
    The South Australian Government tabled a similar Bill twelve months ago (in
    November 2000) that had not been passed by the SA Parliament as at 17
    November 2001. The SA Bill became the subject of an SA Parliamentary
    inquiry, apparently as a result of considerable opposition to the Bill.
    Victoria, Western Australia and the Northern Territory enacted Internet
    censorship legislation (in 1995/96) prior to the Commonwealth legislation
    being enacted in 1999. It is not known whether they will amend their
    legislation to bring it into line with the proposed "national" regime which
    is more restrictive in some regards than existing laws in those
    jurisdictions. For example, laws in the latter jurisdictions do not make it
    a criminal offence to make available to adults material unsuitable for
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