28th March 2000
Ms Maria Vassiliadis
Australian Broadcasting Authority
PO Box Q500
Queen Victoria Building
Dear Ms Vassiliadis
We are prepared to cover costs of copying documents and a reasonable contribution towards costs of search and retrieval. However, as a voluntary non-profit organisation, we are unable to afford charges of the size proposed.
Furthermore, we contend that the quoted charge of $4400 for examination and decision-making, representing approximately 8 minutes for each of the estimated 1680 pages, has been wrongfully assessed. Given the very small number of complaints that have been made to the ABA in relation to Internet content, we would expect that many of the pages would be copies of similar documents and a decision in relation to one document concerning one complaint would apply to documents of the same type concerning other complaints.
The process of assessing complaints about Internet content should be open and accountable. With other forms of media censorship, in relation to films, videos, publications and computer games, the outcomes of classification decisions are openly available to the public at no cost in the online database of the Office of Film and Literature Classification. In contrast, the ABA has chosen not to release decisions about Internet content, although there is absolutely no justification for this stance in the legislation.
The public interest is not served when decisions about Internet content are made in secret, and the process will be greeted with even greater suspicion if our attempt to obtain details of these decisions is stymied by exorbitant charges. We contend that it is in the public interest to make this information available in order to ensure that the decision-making process is transparent, just and accountable.
We therefore request that the decision-making component of the charge be waived.
We will contact you by telephone in the next few days to discuss the matter further.
Owing to intense interest in the outcome of this application by Internet
users in Australia and elsewhere, we have posted copies of this exchange
of correspondence on our website at:
Electronic Frontiers Australia Inc.