Electronic Frontiers Australia Inc.
Media Release 29th August 1999 Australians reject Net censorship An international survey has shown that the Australian public does not support government censorship of the Internet, according to Internet regulation watchdog Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA). "Senator Alston claims community support for his controversial law, but this survey shows that the Minister is sadly out of touch," said EFA Executive Director Darce Cassidy. The survey was conducted in Australia, Germany and the USA by the Bertelsmann Foundation, in conjunction with the Australian Broadcasting Authority. The results show similar trends in all three countries, with the majority of parents being quite confident about their ability to control their children's access. However, one vital question was eliminated from the Australian survey. This question asked whether it is best for parents or the government to decide what children should see on the Internet. "The omission of this question by the ABA is deeply suspicious," said Cassidy. The survey result, released in Australia last Tuesday, comes on top of damning criticism of the Australian legislation by the visiting President of the American Civil Liberties Union, prominent US lawyer Nadine Strossen. The government was further embarrassed last week by a report from the National Australia Bank which cited the Internet censorship legislation as a barrier to the development of the information economy. "The Minister's office seems to have adopted a bunker mentality on this issue," claimed Cassidy. "An extraordinary media release from the Minister's office last week not only attacked the ACLU viewpoint in a disgraceful manner, but also distorted the results of the ABA survey in a deceitful attempt to bolster the government's position." "It's time to end the charade over this inept piece of legislation. The Minister knows that this law won't protect children, yet his office continues to bluster with empty political rhetoric and thin-skinned reaction to legitimate criticism," said Cassidy. EFA believes the only way forward is to repeal the Act and proceed with a comprehensive access management education strategy targeted at parents and supervisors. An education strategy was recommended by the ABA in 1996 and has been promised by both ALP and Coalition Federal Governments over the past four years. [ENDS] -------------------------------------------------------------- Electronic Frontiers Australia Inc -- http://www.efa.org.au/ representing Internet users concerned about on-line freedoms -------------------------------------------------------------- URL of this release: http://www.efa.org.au/Publish/PR990829.html Contacts Kim Heitman Darce Cassidy Phone: 08 9214 2204 Phone: 08 8362 5183 [email protected] [email protected] BACKGROUND Bertelsmann Foundation Survey (released 24/8/99) Available from: http://www.aba.gov.au/whats_new/index.htm Senator Alston's Press Release (24/8/99) http://www.dcita.gov.au/cgi-bin/trap.pl?path=4226 Govt marked: must do better (SMH report 27/8/99) http://www.smh.com.au/news/9908/27/business/business2.html "The National Australia Bank, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu and Melbourne law firm Arnold Bloch Leibler have jointly released a wide ranging report card on the actions taken by the Federal Government to position Australia for the coming e-commerce boom..... The 21 recommendations include: Australia should not seek to control offensive material on the Internet in the manner proposed in the Broadcasting Services Amendment Act but help coordinate other approaches at an international level and pursue child-safe mechanisms at the level of home computers." Internet censorship laws condemned - University of Melbourne (30/8/99) http://www.unimelb.edu.au/ExtRels/Media/UN/current/internetcensorship.html "The Federal Government's Internet censorship law provided an open-ended licence for whoever enforced the law to inject it with their own values, according to prominent American civil libertarian, Professor Nadine Strossen."
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