Political censorship of the web already ongoing in Australia

People must not see an anti-abortion page. And if abortion is not a political issue, I don't know what would be

In an unprecedented move, Australia's communications regulator has threatened to fine a company up to $11,000 a day for indirectly leaking part of its top-secret list of banned internet web pages. The action by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has wide ramifications for media companies, online publishers, web hosting suppliers and any organisation that publishes feedback from readers or customers on their website.

On March 10, ACMA issued Sydney web hosting company Bulletproof Networks with an "interim link-deletion notice" for allowing its customer, the Whirlpool internet community website, to post the link to an anti-abortion web page blacklisted by the regulator. Whirlpool is a popular website with around 276,000 members who regularly provide comments on the internet and broadband in Australia.

The interim notice, obtained by The Australian, stated that on February 19, ACMA received information that a Whirlpool forums page "may contain links to other websites that may contain 'prohibited content' or 'potentially prohibited content'".

According to the notice, ACMA determined that end-users in Australia could access the content on the blacklisted web page. ACMA gave Bulletproof around 24 hours to act. "Bulletproof must comply with the interim link deletion notice as soon as practicable, and in any event by 6pm on the next business day," the notice said. Bulletproof spokesman Lorenzo Modesto was surprised to receive a call, and the notice, from ACMA but decided to comply. "We received a call from ACMA's Jaclyn Smith on Tuesday morning. She laid out the whole scenario for us," Mr Modesto said. Bulletproof then contacted Whirlpool and a decision was made by the community website to remove the link.

"We took action and got the link removed as per ACMA's notice because it's the responsible thing to do when you get any such notice from the authorities," Mr Modesto said. "The (ACMA) notice stated that if we don't comply we could face fines of up to $11,000 a day. As a business we'd rather avoid that and focus on doing what we do best," Mr Modesto said. Mr Modesto said it was the first time the company had received a notice from authorities to take such action.

However, compliance didn't mean web hosting companies should take on the role of "content police". "We're a hosting provider. We'll comply with these notices and we have by notifying and working with our customer Whirlpool but no one should expect us to be the content police on the internet. "We cannot monitor what our customers' customers or members are doing on the web ... the police aren't liable for the crimes criminals commit, are they?" Mr Modesto said.

Whirlpool owner Simon Wright questioned why ACMA chose to slap the notice on Bulletproof instead of Whirlpool since it had published the web page. "ACMA should have contacted us first. "We felt compelled to remove the link to avoid getting Bulletproof into trouble," Mr Wright said. "Threatening friendships is something mobs do, not governments." ...

As at January 31, the ACMA blacklist comprised of 1090 web pages including refused classification, X18+ and MA15+ content. The blacklist, compiled via a complaints-based mechanism, is being used as a basis for federal Government-backed live ISP filtering trials.


Posted by John Ray. For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. For a daily survey of Australian politics, see AUSTRALIAN POLITICS Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me (John Ray) here

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