FC: Electronic Frontiers Australia on Net-censorship efforts

From: Declan McCullagh (declanat_private)
Date: Mon Nov 11 2002 - 06:57:11 PST

  • Next message: Declan McCullagh: "FC: Weekly column: In elections, don't get mad, get even"

    From: Irene Graham <execat_private>
    To: Declan McCullagh <declanat_private>
    Subject: EFA review/analysis of C'th Net censorship regime
    Date: Mon, 11 Nov 2002 13:42:26 +1000
    Below message has been distributed to a number of Australian mailing lists.
    Info below FYI, and feel free to post part or all to politech if you wish.
    When releasing the fourth report on the government's Internet censorship
    regime on 21 August 2002, the Minister for Communications Senator Richard
    Alston proclaimed: "Internet safety for Australians continues to grow".
    EFA has conducted a comprehensive analysis of Government reports on the
    regime, in light of the Minister's admissions to the Senate that official
    reports contain statistical errors exaggerating the alleged effectiveness
    of the scheme, and reviewed the overall operation and effectiveness of the
    scheme. We conclude there is no evidence or indication to support the
    Minister's claim that the Internet has been made safer. Our review and
    findings are contained in:
    EFA submission to the DCITA review of the operation of the C'th Internet
    censorship regime, 8 Nov 2002
    (The Dept of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts (DCITA) is
    currently conducting a review of the operation of the scheme, as required
    by the legislation to be done before 1 Jan 2003.)
    Short summary of EFA submission:
    - The ABA spent 83% of its Internet censorship efforts investigating
    content on overseas-hosted websites over which it has no control.
    - Approximately half of the prohibited items designated as hosted in
    Australia were found in world-wide Usenet newsgroups, most likely
    originated outside Australia, and were not taken down from the Internet.
    - The ABA's refusal to provide the URLs or titles of taken-down
    Australian-hosted web pages, on the ground that such information would
    enable a person to access prohibited content on the Internet, indicates the
    ABA believes such content has not been taken down from the Internet.
    - Ministerial statements trumpeting the success of the scheme have been, by
    the Minister's own admission, based on erroneous statistics.
    - Misleading statements have been made by the government about the
    proportion of prohibited content that is actual child pornography.
    - The scheme exaggerates the outcomes by claiming newsgroup postings
    removed from one Usenet newsgroup server as content that has been removed
    from the Internet.
    - The referral of prohibited content to scheduled filter vendors is not
    followed up to ensure that the vendors add the content to their filter
    - The application of film classification guidelines to static images and
    text on the Internet is inappropriate and results in prohibition of content
    online that is legally available in magazines offline.
    - OFLC fees for classification, and review of a classification, of a web
    page are exorbitant, costing approximately five times the fee for an entire
    offline magazine.
    - Online publishers have less rights in relation to review and appeal of
    classification decisions than offline publishers.
    - The effectiveness or otherwise of the complaints system would be clearer
    if the outcome of investigations resulting from legislatively valid
    complaints (i.e. from Australian residents), and information received from
    other entities such as overseas hotlines, was reported on separately.
    - No information has been made available by the government about successful
    prosecutions, if any, resulting from the scheme.
    - The estimated $2.7M annual cost of the scheme is difficult to justify
    given the limited outcomes achieved.
    - EFA recommends that Schedule 5 of the Broadcasting Services Act be
    repealed and the costly and failed Internet regulatory apparatus be
    Irene Graham
    Executive Director - Electronic Frontiers Australia Inc. (EFA)
    EFA: <http://www.efa.org.au>
    POLITECH -- Declan McCullagh's politics and technology mailing list
    You may redistribute this message freely if you include this notice.
    To subscribe to Politech: http://www.politechbot.com/info/subscribe.html
    This message is archived at http://www.politechbot.com/
    Declan McCullagh's photographs are at http://www.mccullagh.org/
    Like Politech? Make a donation here: http://www.politechbot.com/donate/
    Recent CNET News.com articles: http://news.search.com/search?q=declan

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Mon Nov 11 2002 - 07:15:41 PST