[ Electronic Frontiers Australia ]

Media Release

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Electronic Frontiers Australia Inc.


For Immediate Release
1st July 1999

EFA CALLS FOR MINISTER'S RESIGNATION

Electronic Frontiers Australia today called for the resignation of the
Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator
Richard Alston.

The call followed the passage through the House of Representatives last 
night of Alston's controversial Internet censorship legislation, otherwise 
known as the Broadcasting Services Amendment (Online Services) Bill.

"This Bill is no more than a cheap political stunt", said EFA Executive
Director Darce Cassidy. "Senator Alston has shown he is unfit to hold the IT
portfolio.  He has ignored community concerns about free speech and privacy,
dismissed advice from his own department, the CSIRO and industry experts, 
and has failed to comprehend the nature of the Internet.  He is ill-equipped 
to provide a leadership role in the era of the information economy since he 
has alienated himself from the very industry upon which that economy must 
be built.  The digital age requires a Minister with a grasp of the portfolio 
and an eye for the future, not a man who can't tell the difference between
the Internet and TV."

"In recent months we have seen an endless series of announcements about
increased censorship involving television programming, X-rated videos, the
Internet, phone-sex lines, and interference by the Cabinet in the
appointment of OFLC staff."

"There is absolutely no evidence of demand by the community for more
censorship.  In fact, the opposite is the case.  The majority of
Australians, in survey after survey, have voiced their displeasure at the
extent of government censorship of various media.  Australians don't want to
return to the Dark Ages," Cassidy said.

"It is quite obvious that a significant factor in the introduction of this
legislation was the government's need to gain Senator Harradine's 
crucial vote for its GST and Telstra agendas.  The government has shown it 
is prepared to sell out both free speech and a burgeoning industry in order 
to meet other political objectives."

"The Australian government will become an international laughing stock
when the Bill's censorship regime comes into force after January 1st next 
year.  It will quickly become obvious that national governments are powerless 
to effectively control information on a world-wide communication system 
and that the legislation is incapable of protecting children.  Tragically, 
it will then be too late to reverse the damage that the legislation will 
have done to the Australian economy," Cassidy said.

EFA Chair Kim Heitman said, "The passage of the Bill will not silence its
many critics, and the ordinary user will quickly learn ways of avoiding
clumsy blacklist filters.  EFA will continue to stress the grave problems this legislation will cause and actively campaign for its repeal."

[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 Contacts:

    Kim Heitman                           Darce Cassidy
    Phone: 0408 881 421                   Phone: 0412 685 178
    [email protected]                    [email protected]
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    URL of this release: http://www.efa.org.au/Publish/PR990701.html


BACKGROUND

Information about the Broadcasting Services Amendment (Online Services) Bill
        http://www.efa.org.au/Campaigns/99.html

Blinded by Smoke: The Hidden Agenda of the Online Services Bill 1999
        http://www.libertus.net/liberty/blinded.html

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission decides not
to regulate the Internet
        http://www.crtc.gc.ca/ENG/NEWS/RELEASES/1999/R990517e.htm

A comparison with Singapore and Malaysia
        http://www.efa.org.au/Campaigns/compareasia.html

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