[ Electronic Frontiers Australia ]

Media Release


Electronic Frontiers Australia Inc.

                    Media Release                  March 19th 1999


Anti-censorship group Electronic Frontiers Australia today attacked the
latest government plans to censor the Internet as ignorant and draconian.

"The latest proposal by the government sets the debate on Internet
censorship back three years", said EFA chair Kim Heitman.  "The government
is ignoring the expert advice of Internet industry associations and user
groups, computer professionals, and even government departments."

The government proposals will make material that is legal offline illegal
on the Internet.

"There needs to be open public discussion of detailed proposals, not
rushed implementation of legislation."

"Only a few percent of Net content is located in Australia", Mr Heitman
explained.  "Almost all the material being targetted by the government
is legal in the United States.  So the material our government is trying
to ban or restrict access to will remain available from overseas."

"Suggestions that ISPs should 'block access to such material hosted
overseas' are totally impractical.  They were rejected in a recent CSIRO
report commissioned by Alston's office itself."

Attempts elsewhere to control external content with 'black lists' and
forced use of proxies are acknowledged failures.  China, Singapore,
and some Islamic states are among the few countries that still persist
with them.  Even Malaysia announced this week that it was abandoning
Net censorship attempts.

"'X-rated' is a film and video classification that does not translate
easily to Internet content", Mr Heitman commented.  "Australian content
providers will be at a competitive disadvantage since they will either
have to pay high fees to have their material classified or remain in
uncertainty about their legal status."

"Finally", concluded Mr Heitman, "access by users to information online
is private communication.  It is not just 'unreasonable' for ISPs to
interfere with the content involved - it is a totally unacceptable
invasion of users' personal privacy."


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

      Kim Heitman          Danny Yee
      Phone: 08 9458 2790  Phone: 02 9351 5159 (w) / 02 9955 9898 (h)
      [email protected]   Email: [email protected]


Government proposals

A CSIRO report on content blocking
   (Originally at:
    but this version appears to have been taken offline)

Only 7% of Australian Internet users think the government should censor
the Internet
 -- www.consult survey, results in the appendix to the CSIRO report

Malaysian backdown on Internet censorship

EFA petition


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