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Bill proposes to amend the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 to expand the black list of Internet addresses (URLs), websites hosted domestically and overseas

Posted by gasweek on 9 October, 2007

The Attorney-General was set to controls what Australians read on a website to can blacklist sites at will. The details were in the Coalition Bill to amend the Australian Broadcasting Services Act 1992 to expand the black list of Internet addresses (URLs) (now maintained by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)). The changes to the law would give the Attorney-General the power to bar access to website. It was one of a very large number of Bills tabled in a pre-election frenzy – to use the Government majority in the Senate – aided by Labour, which weirdly, and wimpishly, usually colludes to create the majority. The Bill was adjourned to the first sitting day of the next period. Even after the election, government may control a Senate majority until June.

Why government wants to censor the Internet: Senator Eric Abetz Liberal, (Tasmania—Manager of Government Business in the Senate) said “the Government’s recent review of the E-Security National Agenda found that the e-security landscape has changed significantly with the emergence of sophisticated, targeted and malicious online attacks. Many of these attacks are associated with websites used by criminals to perpetrate fraud or circulate malicious software.

Teddybear and Muffie opening move:” Black listing cyber crime and terrorism websites is part of the Government’s comprehensive NetAlert – Protecting Australian Families Online initiative.

Under the current BSA:

• material that is `prohibited content’, determined by application of the National Classification Scheme (NCS) guidelines, can be added to the designated notification scheme (DNS), colloquially known as the black list.

• The proposed amendments will allow the Australian Federal Police Commissioner to refer additional Internet content that is outside the NCS to ACMA for black listing.

The censorship plan: Domestic and overseas hosted sites that

• encourage, incite, induce or facilitate the commission of a Commonwealth offence, such as ‘phishing’ websites, and

• websites which promote, fundraise or recruit for terrorist organisations will be added to the black list.

“For example, a false bank website that is designed to obtain people’s banking passwords to steal money from their account could be added to the black list.

How your home ends up on the black list: The black list is used by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to automatically filter sites where customers have subscribed to a filtered service. It is also provided to Family Friendly Filter members of the Internet Industry Association (IIA) so they can upgrade their filter products. Filter suppliers under the NetAlert – Protecting Australian Families Online program are required to filter the ACMA black list websites. This means that all families that take advantage of the free NetAlert filters will benefit from the expanded black list.

Plans to make State censorship standard: “The new arrangements will allow harmful sites to be more quickly added to software filters. Of course the best outcome is for these sites to be taken down and their hosts prosecuted. But this takes time, particularly as most of these sites are hosted overseas. Rapid black listing means that the damage these sites can do can be more quickly reduced whilst take-down and prosecution processes are pursued, usually overseas. A website only needs to be online for a short period to do harm”.

Guidelines for black listing websites: The guidelines for black listing crime and terrorism related websites will be made by the Attorney-General and will be publicly available on the Federal Register of Legislative Instruments and also subject to Parliamentary scrutiny as a disallowable instrument under the Legislative Instruments Act 2003. Ordered that further consideration of the second reading of this bill be adjourned to the first sitting day of the next period of sittings, in accordance with standing order 111

Reference: Eric Abetz, Senator for Tasmania, Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation, Manager of Government Business in the Senate, Liberal Party of Australia, Senate, Commonwealth, 20 September 2007.

Erisk Net, 7/10/2007

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