South Australia is about to criminalise provision to adults of material unsuitable
on the Internet.
It will be the first State to do so.
Contact South Australian Members of Parliament to express your opposition to Internet Censorship.
The S.A. Parliament is likely to vote on legislation in the session commencing 13th March 2001.
Please redistribute this alert in appropriate places but not after 16th March 2001.
URL of this alert: http://www.efa.org.au/Campaigns/alert0301.html
Please make personal contact URGENTLY with South Australian Members of Parliament and let them know that you are opposed to the Online Services section of the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) (Miscellaneous)Amendment Bill 2000.
An Internet censorship Bill was introduced into South Australian Parliament on 8th November 2000 by the Attorney-General, Trevor Griffin. Among other things, the Bill criminalises making available content unsuitable for children online, even if the content is only made available to adults. In other words, if you place "matter unsuitable for minors" on a web page, even on a password protected section of your site and give the password only to your adult friends, you could be prosecuted under criminal law. The maximum penalty planned is $10,000. The Bill covers content placed on the web (including archived mailing lists), messages to newsgroups, etc.
The SA Bill is part of the second component of the Commonwealth Internet censorship legislation (effective 1 January 2000). The South Australian Government (Liberal) is believed to be the first 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. Other States/Territories are likely to introduce similar legislation. If you hear of similar proposals in your State/Territory, please advise email@example.com. (Note: Victoria, Western Australia and the Northern Territory enacted Internet censorship legislation prior to the Commonwealth legislation and it is not known whether they will amend their legislation to bring it into line with the proposed "national" regime).
Serious criminal justice issues arise from the provisions of the Online Services (Part 7A) section of the above Bill, which is listed for debate during the South Australian Legislative Council sittings commencing 13 March.
The proposed legislation subjects average everyday South Australians to criminal proceedings for failure to foresee the classification that "would be" granted, from time to time, to particular material by a non-unanimous decision of members of the Classification Board of the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC). The recent controversy over the film 'Hannibal' highlights the fact that the OFLC Board members disagree over the boundary between MA and R content, as do many other members of the Australian community. The 'Hannibal' case is not an isolated one. SA police recently seized a book by acclaimed photographer Robert Mapplethorpe which the OFLC then classified unrestricted, demonstrating that even police cannot correctly guess classifications. No provision is made to enable Internet users who wish to do so to obtain a classification of material before publication on the Internet (and Commonwealth law does not empower the OFLC to provide same, except to the ABA and police). This is inconsistent with SA legislation regulating off-line media and treats ordinary South Australians providing on-line content less fairly under criminal law than off-line publishers of magazines and films.
The Bill has serious deficiencies and requires amendment to ensure that ordinary South Australians who use the Internet to communicate are treated no less fairly under criminal law than offline commercial publishers.
The Bill is inconsistent with the State Government's "Information Economy 2002: Delivering the Future" strategy which aims to make South Australia an information-rich society and includes:
"Capturing attention is about South Australia's positioning as a hot spot within the global Information Economy-giving South Australia a new prominence on the world map, creating a branded identity in a crowded global village. Becoming a hot spot in the global Information Economy means being a centre of activities and talent to which people want to connect. Without such a marker, South Australia will become irrelevant and relegated to the periphery of global activity."
More detail about the Bill is available below. Further information is available in EFA's comprehensive analysis at: http://www.efa.org.au/Publish/sabillanalysis.html
To assist this campaign please contact South Australian MPs.
- General Points
- Raise some or all of the points from Brief Analysis of the Bill below, plus any concerns of your own. Put them in your own words.
- If you have particular personal concerns, e.g. if you publish material on your own website, emphasise those.
- Stress the damage that the Bill will do to the information economy in South Australia, and how will it will generate negative international publicity about South Australia as a police state.
- Requests for action: ask them to raise the matter in the party room; if they seem supportive, suggest it is important enough an issue to amend the Bill, or to cross the floor. Ask them to get their party to pledge to repeal the legislation.
- Be polite.
- Face to face meetings.
- If you live in South Australia call your local member (or one of the key opposition members listed below) and ask for a meeting before 13 March.
- Writing a Letter
- Keep letters short and preferably handwritten.
- The form of address is:
Members of the Legislative Council (upper house): "The Hon (firstname surname), MLC".
Members of the House of Assembly (lower house): "Mr/Ms (firstname surname), MP".
Ministers and others so entitled, are addressed as "The Hon". See the S.A. Parliament Members list if uncertain.
- Letters should be addressed to: Parliament House, Adelaide SA 5000
- Phone Calls
- Ask to speak to someone about the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill 2000.
- You will probably get to talk to a staffer.
- If they try to fob you off by telling you to talk to Trevor Griffin's office, tell them that he isn't responding to your concerns.
- Be polite.
- E-mails are not yet highly regarded by most members of parliament, but for those who live outside South Australia this may be the most effective form of communication. Known E-mail addresses of key members are listed below under Further Information. E-mails should be worded politely but firmly.
- Please send a brief email advising of the response you receive to:
The feedback you provide will help EFA to further refine the Campaign.
- Please send a brief email advising of the response you receive to: <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The basic problems with the Net censorship Bill are:
- makes information illegal online, that is not illegal offline
- criminalises inability to foresee a non-unanimous decision of the Commonwealth Classification Board
- treats ordinary South Australians providing on-line content less fairly under criminal law than off-line film distributors/exhibitors and magazine publishers
- denies Internet users the right to obtain a classification prior to publication, as granted to offline publishers
- fails to require that material be classified before police commence prosecution of an Internet user
- does not appear to require that "Internet content" be classified at all in order to prove an allegation, unlike in the case of an allegation about a film, publication or computer game
- subjects Internet users to maximum penalties double those applicable to offline publishers
- makes it a criminal offence to make information available to adults about "adult themes" including "suicide, crime, corruption, marital problems, emotional trauma, drug and alcohol dependency, death and serious illness, racism, religious issues", except in a "discreet" manner, that is, "with little or no detail and generally brief" (see OFLC Guidelines for the MA classification)
- is inconsistent with Commonwealth law and more restrictive than Internet censorship laws in Victoria, Western Australia and the Northern Territory (others have no Internet specific censorship laws yet)
- invites constant enquiry as to the particular State or Territory laws at issue as the law does not specify in which jurisdiction an offence (making available or supply) takes place, i.e. the location of: the host server; the content provider; or the person who downloads the material, each of which may be in different States.
- It is based on a totally inappropriate model.
- The Internet is nothing like pay Television
- On the Internet hundreds of millions of end-users can publish their own content.
- Applying the Film and Video classification scheme to Internet content is totally inappropriate.
- It is totally out of line with emerging international norms.
- No other Western democracy implements anything remotely like this.
- The accepted international trend is for governments to avoid excessive Internet regulation.
A comprehensive reference source on the bill, including links to
critiques of the bill, is available at:
South Australian MPs contact details are available at:
Every Legislative Council Member represents the whole State, while each Member of the House of Assembly represents one electorate. You can find out which electorate you live in at:
The balance of power in both the South Australian House of Assembly (lower house) and the Legislative Council (upper house) is held by independents. However, the ALP is the dominant opposition party in both houses and the Democrats and SA First also hold key votes in the upper house. Government members will be supporting the Bill but the other parties' positions are not known at this stage.
Contact details for key members are as follows:
The Hon Trevor Griffin, MLC
Postal Address: GPO Box 464, ADELAIDE SA 5001
Fax: +61 8 8207 1736
The Hon John Olsen, MP
Premier and Minister for State Development
or his electorate office:
The Hon Dr Michael Armitage, MP
Minister for Information Economy
Australian Labor Party (ALP)
The Hon Mike Rann, MP
Leader of the Opposition
Mr Michael Atkinson, MP
Shadow Attorney-General & Member for Spence
Fax: 08 8346 5471
The Hon Carolyn Pickles, MLC
Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council
Fax: 08 8410 0535
The Hon Carmel Zollo, MLC
The Hon Paul Holloway, MLC
Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council
Honourable Ian Gilfillan MLC
Honourable Mike Elliott MLC
Honourable Sandra Kanck MLC
The Hon Terry Cameron, MLC
The Hon Trevor Crothers, MLC
Fax: 08 8212 5836
The Hon Nick Xenophon, MLC
Fax: 8231 0525
Liberal Party of South Australia
State President (Rosemary Craddock)
Scott Cadzow - Communications Director
Remind both Liberal Party organisations about the Declaration and the Spirit of Liberalism, which supports:... the innate worth of the individual and the need to encourage initiative and personal responsibility ... the freedoms of the individual .... the basic freedoms of thought, of worship, of speech, of association, of choice, and the right to be independent and to achieve.
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