Last Update: 21st July 1996
The STOP! Campaign
As the most participatory form of mass speech yet developed, the Internet
deserves the highest protection from governmental intrusion.
Judge Stewart Dalzell, United States District Court for the
Eastern District of Pennsylvania - 12th June 1996.
On 9th June 1996, Electronic Frontiers Australia Inc. (EFA) initiated an Australia-wide
campaign aimed at preventing the introduction of poorly conceived laws
regulating the Internet in Australia. EFA mounted this campaign
in order to convince the Attorneys General of this country that their
proposals were badly drafted, unworkable, economically damaging
and would do nothing to achieve their stated aims.
The Attorneys General met in Sydney on July 11/12 and have decided to
put the proposed legislation on hold. They have effectively handed over
responsibility to the Australian Broadcasting Authority who will
initially develop Codes of Conduct in consultation with the
Further activity in the legislative area is now uncertain. The Attorneys
General will meet again in October to reconsider the situation.
- 11th July 1996
- The Standing Committee of Attorneys General (SCAG),
following intervention by the Federal Minister for Communications
and the Arts, Senator Alston, decided to put the proposed state
legislation "on hold". Subsequently, EFA released an
Info Document outlining the
situation as we currently understand it. Western Australia
apparently is still proceeding independently with its own
- 8th July 1996
- With only 3 days to go before the Attorneys General meet,
Alert #3 was released, with EFA's
initial comments on the ABA report. EFA also responded to the
with a Media Release on 7th July.
To stop the implementation of Internet censorship laws at State and
Federal level, on the basis that:
- 24th June 1996
- Campaign Alert #2 released.
A number of support documents released, including:
- These and other documents may also be referenced from the campaign Document Repository.
- existing laws are adequate to deal with objectionable material
- the industry has already developed tools to allow parents to control
their children's access.
- censoring the Internet is technologically impossible and ethically
Victoria, Western Australia, and the Northern Territory have already implemented, or are about to
implement, legislation regulating on-line services. Qld. has no on-line
legislation yet but has existing Computer Games legislation that has already
been used to prosecute Internet users.
NSW has prepared a draft proposal which was being mooted as a model
for other Australian states. This legislation, a draft copy of which was
leaked to EFA, went further than any existing or proposed legislation
in imposing quite draconian measures. It was described as far worse than
the controversial U.S. CDA law which was recently declared unconstitutional by a U.S. District Court.
The EFA STOP! Campaign resulted in wide publicity for this issue,
and many supporters of the campaign contacted their respective
Attorneys General to object to the proposals.
The Standing Committee of Attorneys General (SCAG) met in Sydney
on 11/12th July. They rejected the NSW proposal and referred the matter
of Internet regulation to the Australian Broadcasting Authority, which
had released its report a week earlier.
EFA will be offering its services to the Attorneys General and to the
ABA in order
to provide advice and demonstrate that the Internet is not the
bogeyman that popular myth would have Australians believe.
We encourage all industry organizations to join with us
in supporting this campaign.
The draft NSW legislation indicated that the
Attorney General of NSW, Mr. Jeff Shaw, proposed to introduce legislation that would:
- make service providers liable for any material that passes through their
system that is not suitable for children. This will make it legally impossible
for any ISP to operate in NSW.
- make it illegal to transmit material via the Internet that is
legal to transmit by mail.
- incriminate people who innocuously receive material that they
have no knowledge of.
- invite malicious or vendetta actions by failing to take account of the
nebulous nature of unverified user identification on the Internet.
- redefine the everyday meaning of the word transmit to
mean send or receive thus making criminals out of people
who innocently download objectionable material.
- force service providers to snoop on their users activities, including
reading private E-Mail. This is equivalent to forcing the Post Office to
randomly open letters, or Telstra to listen in on phone calls, both of which
are serious offences.
For a more detailed analysis of the NSW proposals see
EFA's Analysis of the NSW draft legislation
by Kimberley Heitman.
For a discussion of the issues and an alternative proposal which will do
far more to achieve the stated objectives without draconian legislation, see
Peter Merel's How to Regulate the Internet.
- 15th July
- EFA released an Info Document
outlining the current situation.
- 11th July
- The Commonwealth and State Attorneys General referred
the matter to the Australian Broadcasting Authority.
- 8th July
- Alert #3 was released, with EFA's
initial comments on the ABA report.
- 7th July
- EFA issued a Media Release welcoming
the ABA report, but criticising its apparent acceptance of complementary
- 5th July
- The Minister for Communications, Senator Richard Alston, in a
speech given to an INTIAA meeting,
announced the release of the Australian Broadcasting Authority's
report on the regulation
of On-line Services.
- 24th June.
- A number of support documents were released
to assist supporters in arguing the case with Attorneys General.
- The second Alert of the campaign was distributed.
- Week ending 21st June.
- 10 separate media stories covered the Internet censorship
issue in Australia.
- A number of industry organisations made public statements opposing the
NSW proposals. These included: ACS, INTIAA and WAIA.
- EFA representatives began to hold or arrange meetings with
Attorneys General or their advisers in each state.
- 13th June.
- EFA issued a Media Release welcoming the U.S. decision.
- 12th June.
- A U.S. District Court declared the
Communications Decency Act unconstitutional. Although not directly relevant to
Australia, this decision is being studied closely here. It means that Australia
could now take the lead in the most foolish legislation stakes in the global Internet censorship
- 10th June.
- The first Alert announcing the campaign was distributed. An accompanying Media Release announced
the campaign to the mainstream media.
- 2nd June.
- EFA sent a letter to Mr. Shaw offering to meet with him and discuss the problems with the
legislation. No response was forthcoming as at the end of that week.
- 28th May.
- The EFA Board agreed to extend the campaign nationally.
- 27th May.
- After extensive discussion on the Net, 400 people marched from Hyde Park in Sydney to Parliament house.
received extensive positive media coverage and brought the debate to the public arena for
the first time.
- 27th May.
- After receiving a number of protests about the legislation, Mr Shaw released a second
Paedophilia should not be encouraged by the Internet
, a sensationalist statement that angered opponents of
- 25th May.
- EFA obtained a leaked copy of the proposed legislation.
- 2nd April.
- The NSW Attorney General, Mr. Jeff Shaw released the initial press release
outlining the NSW Government's intentions.
In the initial phase of the campaign, we were advising supporters of the campaign to
lodge objections to the proposed state legislation. With the change of direction
following the SCAG meeting, this action is no longer appropriate. EFA is currently
analysing the situation and will recommend further direct action as and when
In the meantime you can:
- Familiarize yourself fully with the facts of the situation by studying the material available
- Study the ABA report and its implications.
- Contact your local Member or Parliament. Lodge an objection to legislative moves,
either by personal visit or letter.
- Stay in touch with the campaign as outlined below.
- If you are an Internet Access Provider, see What an IAP can do.
- If you live outside Australia but would like to help, see How You Can help from Other Countries
- Sign the Petition established by Karl Auer.
- See What Else You Can Do.
We have put together an extensive document repository that
provides sample letters, analysis of the legislation and sources of background information.
The contact details for all Attorney Generals in Australia
are available. Some of these can be contacted by E-Mail using the E-Mail/fax gateway.
Monitor the progress of the campaign by:
If you need further information concerning your local situation you may contact your state STOP! campaign representative:
- Visiting this page regularly.
- Joining the Alerts mailing list to receive
the latest alerts for the campaign. This will be a low volume list with no discussion.
To join, send an E-Mail to [email protected] with the word
subscribe in the body of the message.
- Joining the STOP! Campaign [email protected] discussion list.
To join the list, send an E-Mail to [email protected]
with the word subscribe in the body of the message.
- Joining the debate in the aus.org.efa Newsgroup.
- Danny Yee [email protected]
- James Nunn [email protected]
- Irene Graham [email protected]
- Andrew Connor [email protected]
- Kim Heitman [email protected]
- Michael Malone [email protected]
Contacts for Media Enquiries
Media representatives may contact the following for more information:
Kim Heitman [email protected] Ph: (09) 458 2790
Danny Yee [email protected] Ph: (02) 351 5159 (W) or (02) 9955 9898 (H)