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Tuesday, 05 May 2009 17:11

EFA receives a 'Take Down' notice

Earlier today, the ISP hosting the Electronic Frontiers Australia website was served with a "Final Link-Deletion Notice" – Australia's equivalent of a "take-down notice" by the ACMA. 

In an article entitled "Net censorship already having a chilling effect" the EFA referred to a discussion on Whirlpool where a take-down notice had been issued to remove a link to an anti-abortion site which reports suggest contained pictures of an aborted foetus.

The EFA article also linked to the same anti-abortion page for the purposes of journalistic discussion and political debate.

According to the comments section of that EFA page, a semi-anonymous complaint was made to ACMA by 'Declan' specifically that "According to ACMA complaint 2009000009/ ACMA-691604278, the material at Abortion TV qualifies as prohibited content."  This complaint was laid on March 18th 2009; it took ACMA until May 5th to issue the "Final Link-Deletion Notice." 

Nothing like speedy action.

Following today's ACMA "Final Link-Deletion Notice," the EFA article was edited to remove the specific link to the website; replaced with simple Google instructions to find the same page, should the reader desire.

I'd guess it would be just as effective to use Google caches to find the link.

Now, unless my comment in the preceding paragraph is also illegal, I have just offered a method to bypass the ACMA goons.  Simply describe the content and permit Uncle Google to bring it to you.  And if the filters are in place, simply ask Google to perform an English-to-English translation of the site (unless ACMA decide to ban Google, of course). 

Alternately, investigate the joys of HTTPS connections.

The objectionable page was not hosted in Australia and absolutely nothing on the EFA discussion piece could be considered objectionable.  The complaint could only be viewed as an interpretation of what a fragment of HTML might mean.

EFA's announcement of the "Final Link-Deletion Notice" noted that "Viewing the potentially R-rated page itself is not in any way illegal, and no system is yet in place to enforce the blocking of such web pages. One may well wonder why a link to a legally viewable page should draw the threat of legal sanction while the content itself remains visible. Because the link was on a web page hosted in Australia, the hosting provider - not EFA ourselves, who have more control over the content - falls under Australian legal jurisdiction and could be so served. What this accomplishes is uncertain."

"With fines of up to $11,000 per day threatened against our hosting provider, we have little choice but to comply with ACMA's directive. However, we are investigating an appeal of the order on the grounds that it stifles a legitimate political discussion on the merits of the Government's internet censorship policies."

Interestingly (and highly amusingly), EFA have attached the full text of the "Final Link-Deletion Notice" to today's article.  Which leaves me wondering, are ACMA contravening their own enabling legislation by nominating the link to which they object?  Especially since the "Final Link-Deletion Notice" MUST be made public in order to defend the link removal.

This is an absurd piece of legislation which must be killed.



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David Heath

David Heath has had a long and varied career in the IT industry having worked as a Pre-sales Network Engineer (remember Novell NetWare?), General Manager of IT&T for the TV Shopping Network, as a Technical manager in the Biometrics industry, and as a Technical Trainer and Instructional Designer in the industrial control sector. In all aspects, security has been a driving focus. Throughout his career, David has sought to inform and educate people and has done that through his writings and in more formal educational environments.



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