NEWS RELEASE FROM THE

ATTORNEY-GENERAL THE HON DARYL WILLIAMS AM QC MP

12 December 1997

TOUGH LAWS FOR OFFENSIVE INTERNET MATERIAL

At the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General in Hobart today, the Commonwealth, State and Territory Attorneys-General have reaffirmed that criminal sanctions should apply to people who place offensive or illegal material on the Internet.

The Attorneys have agreed to put in place effective laws that ensure there is no conflict between the Commonwealth, States and Territories.

Consistent with government actions already underway these measures will ensure appropriate regulation of on-line services and will ensure criminal sanctions for serious offences while not inhibiting industry growth.

The Commonwealth legislation will not override State or Territory laws applying to people who place offensive or illegal material on the Internet.

In addition, the Commonwealth legislanon will not give immunity to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from liability for State and Territory offences. While primary responsibility for content will lie with users of the system (including content providers) it is the Commonwealth view that ISPs should be criminally liable under State/Territory laws for conduct which goes beyond passively allowing their systems to contain material placed there by others.

If a service provider:

they would be actively participating in an offence.

The effect of the provisions will be to extend criminal liability beyond the complicity offences, which require some degree of active participation, to a new offence of knowingly, though passively, allowing another person to commit an offence.