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Media Release

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Electronic Frontiers Australia Inc.

                                                   November 10th 1998

CENSORING HATE SPEECH ON THE INTERNET IS COUNTER-PRODUCTIVE

Electronic Frontiers Australia today issued an open letter to the Human
Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, arguing against the application
of the Racial Discrimination Act to web sites.  A case involving the
web site of the Adelaide Institute is currently before HREOC.

"There are both principled and pragmatic arguments against the application
of the RDA to web sites", said EFA board member Danny Yee.  "While telling
race-based jokes in the pub is probably unlawful under the RDA, that is
hardly something the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission is
or should be involved in.  But your chances of overhearing racist jokes
in a pub are vastly greater than your chances of unwittingly stumbling
over offensive material on the Adelaide Institute's web site.  The RDA
could severely curtail the freedom of Australian Internet users."

The EFA letter warns that attempts to censor hate speech on the Internet
will be counter-productive.

"Pragmatically, attempts to suppress hate speech online will only result
in its publication overseas", commented EFA board member Irene Graham.
"The United States Constitution protects views such as those expressed
by The Adelaide Institute."

"Rather than publicising offensive speech by attempting to censor it",
Ms Graham continued, "the Executive Council of Australian Jewry would
be better advised to make factual information available on their own
web site. Around the world, organisations such as The Nizkor Project
and other members of The Holocaust Ring provide extensive information
countering the material distributed by The Adelaide Institute and other
revisionist web sites.  Internet users can make their own decisions about
the accuracy of the various claims, or ignore the debate entirely."

The full text of the EFA letter to HREOC is available at:
        http://www.efa.org.au/Publish/hreoc.html

ENDS

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      Electronic Frontiers Australia Inc  --  http://www.efa.org.au/
      representing Internet users concerned with on-line freedoms
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      Media Contact

      Kimberley Heitman
      Phone: 618 9458 2790
      Email: [email protected]
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BACKGROUND

Global Internet Liberty Campaign statement on hate speech
        http://www.gilc.org/speech/un/gilc-hate-speech.html

The Racial Discrimination Act, Section 18C
        http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/rda1975202/s18c.html

The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission
        http://www.hreoc.gov.au/

The Adelaide Institute
        http://www.adam.com.au/fredadin/adins.html

The Nizkor Project
        http://www.nizkor.org/

The Holocaust Ring
        http://www.netbistro.com/electriczen/holoring.html

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Copyright © 1998 Electronic Frontiers Australia Inc.