Electronic Frontiers Australia today expressed its surprise and concern that
the operators of the satirical protest site StephenConroy.com.au were given
only three hours to justify their "connection to" the domain name. Under
Australian domain name regulations, it is quite common for website operators
to be required to identify their reasons for operating under an Australian
domain name, but it is unusual for operators to be offered so little time to
provide those reasons.
"While we understand some of the quite sensible reasons behind the
restrictive rules on Australian domain names, we are surprised at the level
of energy with which auDA has pursued this particular matter", said EFA
spokesperson Geordie Guy. "At a time when criticism of the Minister around
the government's proposed mandatory filtering scheme is so prolific, it's
easy for Australians to be cynical about such assertive action from the
domain authority particularly when we understand that other cases are
usually afforded much more consideration."
This incident reflects worrying concerns about the power that private domain
name regulators have to silence critical political speech without going
through legitimate legal channels. In 2006, a similar incident saw Melbourne
IT cancel the domain registration for JohnHowardMP.org created by well-known
political commentator Richard Neville, a move that was instigated on advice
from the Australian Government. Cancellation silenced a satirical website
that featured a parody speech from Mr Howard that apologised for Australia's
involvement in the most recent Iraq war.
Electronic Frontiers Australia Inc. (EFA) is a non-profit national
organisation representing Internet users concerned with on-line
rights and freedoms. EFA was established in 1994, is independent
of government and commerce, and is funded by membership subscriptions
and donations from individuals and organisations with an altruistic
interest in promoting online civil liberties.
Mr Geordie Guy
Phone: 0415 797 142
Email: gguy at efa.org.au