"Senator BOLKUS -- ... I refer briefly to one of the points Senator Harradine made. He claims that the Government shows naivety and that, as a Party, we have shown naivety for over 10 years. Senator Harradine's Press statement of 2 April 1984 indicates that the naivety of which we on this side are supposed to be guilty is more adequately sheeted home to Senator Harradine. He made this rather amazing statement:
Senator BOLKUS --He may claim it is right but it is also right that hard core pornography now exists. Senator Harradine will not understand, in this debate or in many other debates on enforcing laws of morality, that unless the community holds sufficient respect for laws they cannot be enforced properly. In this particular case, unless we recognise the legitimate interests of a democracy, we will find there is no respect for the laws in question. He cannot and will not understand that unless they have sufficient respect in the community, they will not be enforced properly. That then leads to all sorts of other problems."
Since the last Newsletter our main focus has been defending free speech on the Internet against the draconian censorship regime proposed by Senator Alston's Broadcasting Services Amendment (Online Services) Bill.
EFA made a detailed submission on the Bill to the Senate Select Committee on Information Technology, and Vice-Chair Greg Taylor gave evidence to the Committee. The submission is at http://www.efa.org.au/Publish/senate99.html
A number of individual members of EFA also made personal submissions to the Committee.
A petition of containing more than 10,000 signatures, organised by EFAl, was presented to the Senate by Senator Natasha Stott-Despoja.
Over the weekend of 28-30 May a series of rallies against the Bill were held in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. Detailed reports of these events are at http://www.efa.org.au/Campaigns/may28/index.html
Board members Kim Heitman, Greg Taylor and Michael Malone, together with Executive Director Darce Cassidy visited Canberra at the end of March to speak to politicians and officials. Meetings were held with a group of ALP members, including the shadow Attorney General, shadow Communications Minister and shadow IT Minister, senior officials from the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, and Senator Stott Despoja's adviser. Meetings were also held with Internet interest groups, including IIA, AIIA and the Canberra PCUG.
In June Executive Director Darce Cassidy returned to Canberra to further press the points that the Bill would be ineffective, and damaging to the information economy in Australia. Copies of the material presented in Canberra are at http://www.senet.com.au/~jcassidy/effectiveness.html and http://www.senet.com.au/~jcassidy/consequences.html. He spoke with senior officials in DCITA and the Prime Minister's Department, Senator Kate Lundy's adviser and the Chair of the ALP caucus committee on Information Technology.
Board members and the Executive Director have been interviewed for numerous radio and television programs, and there has been substantial press coverage for EFA's position. While early press coverage was mostly in the I.T. pages, the mainstream press gave wider coverage as the campaign developed. Details of press coverage is at http://pobox.com/~mbaker/efapress.html
Members of Parliament have been deluged with complaints about the Bill, and Senator Alston turned off his email because of the flood of messages. A number of politicians (including some who had opposed the Bill) did not react well to the volume of email. In lobbying politicians the Board felt that a personal approach is most effective, or failing that, a phone call, a letter, or a fax, in that order of priority.
EFA wrote a letter to all federal MPs, and a second letter to Coalition MHRs only. EFA members, and other opponents of the Bill, have been lobbying MPs on an individual basis, and several Coalition MPs said that they were opposed to the Bill. Several have spoken against the Bill in the party room. Trish Worth, Member for Adelaide wrote to EFA that she has expressed concern to the Prime Minister, and Andrew Southcott, Member for Boothby said that he will raise his concerns with Senator Alston.
Despite this, party discipline was enforced, the Bill has become law, and will take effect on January 1, 2000.
EFA has significantly lifted its profile in the censorship debate. Practically all media outlets have presented EFA spokespersons and URLs as counterpoints to statements by Government, and the Internet activists and industry have accepted the EFA campaign objectives and principles.
Editorials around the country have accepted EFA's position that the Bill is unworkable and an assault on freedom of expression. "Blacklists" are widely rejected as unreliable, and keyword filters are acknowledged as unacceptable due to collateral damage and subjective values. Irene Graham's report on Internet Sheriff, one of the filters mentioned favourably by Senator Alston, has played an important part in the debate.
Dialogue with other Internet groups has been cordial, but united action has been elusive.
EFA is considering a three tiered response based on the following:
ASIO Hacking Legalised
Now we know why the government wanted to keep the Walsh Report quiet. On 25 March the government introduced legislation to amend the ASIO Act, which incorporated a number of the recommendations of the Walsh Report, including a provision for ASIO to covertly hack into computers.
There was a hurried review by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on ASIO, but this was so hurried that only one non-Government witness was able to appear before the Committee. EFA made a submission to the Committee. A couple of minor points from our submission were taken up by the committee, resulting in some amendments to the legislation.
However the general thrust of the legislation remained unchanged, and ASIO is now authorised not simply to intercept computer communications, but also to hack into computers without the knowledge of the owners.
Executive Director Appointed
Darce Cassidy took up duty as EFA's first Executive Director at the end of March. With a background in political activism Darce worked as a current affairs journalist for ABC TV and Radio, and taught Media Studies at RMIT. He was manager of the ABC in South Australia between 1989 and 1997.
Working on a part time basis, Darce has established the EFA office in Adelaide. The Victorian Government's The Data Protection Bill will be open for public comment until the spring sitting of the Victorian parliament. EFA will be developing a formal response.
International Items of Note
Internet helps stem human rights abuses
According to Amnesty International, the Internet has aided growth in human rights movement participation by making it easier to spread the word about violations. The Internet has been a major factor in raising awareness, because it has allowed information to flow freely in and out of countries with censor-heavy governments.
For the full story see http://cnn.com/US/9906/16/human.rights.ap/.
UNESCO launches campaign to fight Internet paedophilia
Internet and communications industries representatives, educators, international law enforcement officials and human rights advocates have formed The World Citizen's Committee on Protecting Innocence in Danger, under the auspices of UNESCO. The group has pledged to fight child pornography and paedophiles' use of the Web.
For the full story see http://www.cnn.com/WORLD/americas/9906/15/un.pedophilia/index.html.
International Law Enforcement Telecommunications Seminar
After the FBI failed to get the US Congress to pass new laws on telephone tapping in the early 1990s it set up the International Law Enforcement Telecommunications Seminar (ILETS). ILETS has been working in secret for the past 6 years on getting telecom interception enshrined in national laws, including those of Australia.
For the full story by investigative journalist Duncan Campbell, see http://www.heise.de/tp/english/special/enfo/6398/1.html.
Email empowerment in Indonesia Issue No. 48 of Netaction Notes, published by Netaction contained an article on email empowerment in Indonesia. Since the resignation of former president Soeharto, women's groups in Indonesia have been using email lists to network and "confront state-sanctioned violence and violations of women's human rights in post-Soeharto Indonesia".
To subscribe to NetAction Notes, send a message to:
The body of the message should state: subscribe netaction
For links to international news stories and other EFA related press see http://pobox.com/~mbaker/efapress.html.
Why you should become a member of EFA
How to join
Membership of EFA costs just $20 per year and for that you get to belong to the premier online civil liberties organisation in Australia; you get issues of the Newsletter on line or in the mail if you have no electronic address, you have the opportunity to contribute to the growth of Electronic Frontiers Australia and volunteer your time and talents in this endeavour. Please consider joining us.
Membership fees are payable each September and part fees apply to those joining during the year:
Group Membership is open to associations and groups on the basis of an annual fee of $300 or $0.10 per member, whichever is the greater.
The form to complete is available online at http://www.efa.org.au/JoinEFA/Welcome.html. The membership form is also mailed automatically to anyone who sends email to email@example.com.
How to follow EFA activities
ELECTRONIC FRONTIERS AUSTRALIA INC. is a non-profit national organisation formed in 1994 to promote and defend the civil liberties of users and operators of networked systems. EFA's members are Net and BBS users and other people with a common interest in the digital community, computer mediated communication and online information services. EFA is associated with a number of online civil liberties organisations around the world.
EFA's objectives are:
|(a)||To protect and promote the civil liberties of users of computer based communications systems and of those affected by their use.|
|(b)||To advocate the amendment of laws and regulations in Australia and elsewhere which restrict free speech and unfettered access to information.|
|(c)||To educate the community at large about the social, political, and civil liberties issues involved in the use of computer based communications systems.|
|(d)||To support, encourage and advise on the development and use of computer based communication systems, and related innovations.|
|(e)||To research and advise on the application of the law (both current and proposed) to computer based communication systems and related technologies.|
Policymakers and media representatives are encouraged to contact EFA for input and comment where relevant.
On the Internet, you can find more information about EFA at our World
Wide Web site, http://www.efa.org.au/,
or by sending email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Submissions to this newsletter are welcome. Ideas and brief articles for future issues should be sent to email@example.com.
© Copyright 1999 Electronic Frontiers Australia Inc.
Permission is given for redistribution on networks, but distribution via other media is subject to the written permission of the EFA Board.
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