This is way overdue, but I was away on several trips and am meeting myself coming and going. Up-front, I want to apologize to the Adelaide Institute of Australia for not having added Dr. Fredrick Toben to our list of "Victims of Zion" a few days ago. It was a list I compiled about half a year ago, and there are additional names I needed to have added.
Now to today's item, which also pertains to Australia:
A Wired News article, written by Stewart Taggart, dated June 30, 1999, tells us that just as the Aussies surrendered their guns, they seem to have surrendered a large chunk of their freedom of speech.
The previous week, the political leaders of the continent ". . . passed into law one of the world's most far-reaching online content censorship regimes."
In what is called online content legislation,
". . . the center-right government of Prime Minister John Howard argued that some controls are needed to limit access by children to pornographic content on the Internet, as well as ***other material that could be deemed offensive***."
They could not mean Revisionist content, could they?
The article tells us that Internet use in Australia has risen by 50 percent in one year, with nearly 18 percent of Australian households having bought Internet access, and of those already hooked into the Information Highway, nearly 40 percent use the Net on a daily basis. These people, according to the government, cannot be trusted to decide for themselves what they can or cannot read, and will need Big Daddy to tell them.
To quote the Wired article:
"The rules -- which take effect 1 January, 2000 -- enable Australian government regulators to order domestic Internet service providers (ISPs) to take down indecent or offensive Web sites housed on their servers, and also require they block access to certain domestic or overseas-based content."
Stephen Nugent, a special projects manager for the Australian Broadcasting Authority, is quoted in this article as saying:
"We're on fairly new ground here. The codes of practice envisaged under this legislation are probably more detailed, and cover a greater range of matters, than I have seen in any other country."
This little censorship beauty is known as the "Broadcasting Services Amendment (Online Services) Act". This new law will institute a movie-like rating system for Internet content. According to this article,
". . . The ABA will order ISPs to take down content on their servers rated X (Sexually Explicit) or RC (Refused Classification) within 24 hours of being notified."
It is interesting that Australia, a country supposedly moored in British tradition, voted totally contrary to the Canadian Radio and Television Commission, which ruled recently that it would ***not*** regulate content on the Internet!
The article goes on to say:
"For opponents of online content restrictions, the struggle will now shift to cyberspace itself. They believe the Internet simply will prove too large, too decentralized, and too fast-moving for regulators anywhere to successfully block access to any content for long."
The article next goes on to do the usual talmudic twist: link cyber censorship to guess-what-else? Pornography. I predict the rest will be an encore of the Cyber War of 1996 around the Zundelsite, where cyber activists will think of ways of thwarting cyber cops.
One Aussie lady fiddling with pornography by offering nude pictures of herself has already figured it all out:
"Among the defiant is Perth-based online entrepreneur Bernadette Taylor. Known to her Web site admirers as a "Virtual Girlfriend," she offers nude photos of herself and personalized email communication to paying members. To Taylor, passage of the law merely begins a hide-and-seek game she professes little doubt she'll win.
"With a Web site housed in Dallas, Texas, she plans to stay one step ahead of the nation's blocking mechanisms for as long as the law lasts.
"'With a bit of effort the ABA could find (and block) me every day but they'd have to spend five to 10 minutes doing it,' she says. 'In the meantime, I'm compiling a mail list which has all the people that want notification of where I am."'
I say this with some bitterness: No doubt this enterprising gal will find herself some cyber heroes willing to do for her what those same cyber activists were not willing to do for Revisionist websites - to offer and apply their expertise on the technical aspects of freedom of speech on the net.
I well remember early correspondence I had with some members of the Electronic Frontiers Australia, described as the ". . . online civil liberties group that spearheaded a failed effort to stop the law." These fine folks joined the Nizkor chorus - and didn't do a thing.
To Grant Bayley, a Sydney spokesman for 2600 Australia, an organization of technology enthusiasts, the fact that the law comes into force on 1 January, 2000 provides at least one indication that Australian lawmakers may not have been fully cognizant on all the issues involved.
"January 1 is not going to be one of the best days in the world to implement this," he said, referring to the long-feared Year 2000 problem in which worldwide computers may start acting up due to the millennial date change. "There are going to be much bigger problems around," he said.
Might we be talking precedent?
And could it be that what the cyber activists refused to do in 1996 - that is, to tell the censors right up front, and firmly, to crawl back where they came from - they will now have to do on Day One in the New Millennium? Country by country?
It gives me no pleasure to remind them that it was the Zundelsite who told them this would happen - way back when!
Thought for the Day:
"We cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home."
Back to Table of Contents of the July 1999 ZGrams