[ Electronic Frontiers Australia ]

Media Release

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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]

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