The Australian Government has introduced a Bill to allow the Federal Police to block or censor web content. The police, with limited oversight by courts, would decide what Australian’s can read, see or hear on the net. CLA believe consensus approach to achieving a Bill of Rights the move would set new lows in freedom of speech in Australia. What do you think? Go to article, and have your say.
The new Communications Legislation Amendment (Crime or Terrorism Related
Internet Content) Bill 2007 will give the AFP Commissioner the power to block access to websites he says are crime or terrorism-related. Internet Service Providers can be ordered to deny access to internet content to all users.
The Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts (Senator Coonan, Liberal, New South Wales) introduced this Bill into the Senate of the Australian Parliament on the last sitting day of Parliament before it was prorogued for the November 2007 federal election. In effect, the Federal Coalition Government has foreshadowed what it proposes to do if re-elected in the next Parliament, hence a Coalition Government will claim they have a mandate for such a draconian law.
The ability of the courts to oversight this proposed law is limited to reviewing whether the police had ‘reason to believe’ that the content was related to crime or terrorism, not whether it is actually related. Nor can the courts consider issues relating to free speech.
“This a major attack on all Australians civil rights”, Greens Senator Kerry Nettle said.
“There are no clear criteria or definitions of the scope of Commissioner’s sweeping power: this could potentially be applied to millions of websites.
“The AFP Commissioner should not be the arbiter of what Australians can read, see or hear on the net.” – The Australian, 12 Sept 07
“This Government’s extremism has reached new heights today,” said the Chair of the Australian Privacy Foundation, Prof Roger Clarke, a CLA member.
“These draconian powers would apply to a vast array of content which the AFP may ‘have reason to believe’ ‘induces’ or ‘facilitates’ any criminal offence, or is even ‘likely to have [that] effect’.
CLA believes there is a sound case to be made for a full parliamentary inquiry into all anti-terror, security-related and data/internet legislation passed since 11 September 2001.
In 2008, Civil Liberties Australia will be proposing a major new initiative in this area.