AUSTRALIAN BROADCASTING AUTHORITY
in the matter of the
Investigation into the Content of On-Line Services
Ms Kaaren Koomen
On-Line Services Investigation
Australian Broadcasting Authority
We, the undersigned, are Australian citizens, who use the Internet for a
variety of purposes - business and leisure. Although not commenting on your
Issues Paper point by point, we subscribe to the following general principles,
and wish you to take them into account when preparing the report for the Hon
Michael Lee, Minister for Communications and the Arts, on the question of
regulation of on-line services:
- We view the Internet as more than a communications infrastructure.
Rather, we see it as a global community of an estimated 50 million or more
users and consider ourselves members of that community.
- As Australian members of the Internet community, we have found the
Internet to be the largest and most harmonious multi-cultural community in
existence; we value the our membership of it. It is a world where colour,
creed and race are irrelevant to the majority, gender is not a matter for
discrimination, and tolerance of differences is a way of life.
- We consider ADULTS in a free society should be allowed to see, hear and
say whatever they wish. The Internet allows us to do so; we value that
capability. The Internet started in the United States of America. That
country has, in the last few days, passed legislation showing the rest of the
world how little it's political leaders value freedom. We would hope that
Australia would not follow that particular lead, but would, rather, show that
our multi-cultural society offers freedom to all equally.
- We ARE concerned about children's access to adult material and concepts
on the Internet. We believe that regulation is not a solution to this. As your
paper makes clear, this material does not impose itself on the user. The user
has to go looking for it, and it is not as available as the media would have us
think. Other methods of protecting children are, therefore, far more
applicable. We do NOT think that the Internet is responsible for what children
do or see. They are introduced by adults to the on-line world, and those adults
must take the responsibility of supervision, and the provision of filtering
software to ensure the children are protected from whatever is deemed to be
inappropriate. The Internet is first and foremost an educational instrument.
Most of the world's academic institutions are on-line, and provide much
material for other academics. Some of this material is, by definition, not
suitable for children. Academic freedom is vital to a 'clever country', but
regulation of the most successful means of dissemination of ideas would destroy
much of that freedom. We consider supervision by adults and/or access through
various filtering devices to be the only rational means to protect children on
the Internet, and protect academic and adult freedoms, simultaneously.
- We reject outright, the suggestion that the government is given the power
to ban UseNet groups or Internet sites. We consider this to be an technically
naive, counter-productive and authoritarian over reaction. We say counter
productive, as such a move would probably increase rather than decrease the
problem by overseas users:
- 'mirroring' a site (duplicating it's entire contents on one or more other
- Posting material previously contained in an appropriate UseNet group, to
be posted to unrelated UseNet groups. This would, obviously, lead to a much
larger volume of 'undesirable' material being available on the Internet, and
increase the chance of Internet users being INVOLUNTARILY exposed to it. It is
a regrettable fact of life that people are generally attracted to anything
which is banned. That fact, alone, would guarantee an increase of undesirable
material, and an unhealthy interest in otherwise largely ignored material.
- We agree with the OFFICE OF FILM AND LITERATURE CLASSIFICATION's
conclusion (as the result of it's 7 hour search) that (CURRENTLY) "the
likelihood of on-line users being INVOLUNTARILY exposed to material at the
refused classification level, category 1 publication level or category 2
publication level, to be LOW". We would, however, go further, and suggest it
to be nearly impossible. Many people who regularly use the 'Net have never seen
anything of this nature. Further, such material is normally only available in
encoded format - so the only way to view it is by deliberate action - i.e. by
consciously decoding it and viewing it. This cannot happen involuntarily.
- We consider the existing criminal laws for being in possession of, or
publishing, "Restricted Classification" material to be sufficient to address
issues such as child pornography, bomb recipes etc. We can see no justification
for further criminal provisions aimed specifically at on-line services.
- We are disturbed at the level of ignorance about the Internet both in
government and the community at large. We think OUR taxes being spent on
multiple investigations and task forces, would be better spent on:
- Educating the public and government officers about the Internet;
- Encouraging rural areas to gain access to, the Internet;
- Buying a 10,00 user license of 'Net Nanny' or other filtering software,
that could then be distributed over the net, at no cost, for ISP's to pick up
and distribute to schools and parents. This would indeed have been money well
spent, as the major fear of the public at large would have been laid to rest.
In conclusion then, we:
- Would like the public to be better educated as to what the Internet is and
- Insist parents and educators are held responsible for guiding their
children in their care through the Internet (as we would expect them to do if
they took children to New York);
- Reject outright any suggestions that regulatory intervention by
governments into the Internet is appropriate;
- Would like you to consider that for any government measures to work, they
MUST have the support of the community they affect; in this case the Internet
community. As members of that community, we DO support education and filtering
software. We do NOT support government intervention and regulation of the
Internet. We are residents of Australia, and over the age of 18.
Thankyou for your time.
No Name Email address
This petition has been designed so the ABA receive it in 10 signature
'chunks'. Following the instructions below will ensure there are no
duplications of signatures, and that the ABA aren't spammed to death by
'forward' messages. Please follow them carefully...
Instructions for using this petition once you've received it:
- Strip off any 'forwarding' messages. Do NOT remove or alter any other
information, including these instructions or the petition text.
- If it's Friday, 16th February (closing date for submissions):
- Sign the petition as detailed in step 4
- Forward the petition to <email@example.com>
- email <firstname.lastname@example.org> with a subject of 'n sent'
- Ignore the remaining instructions
- If there are already 10 signatures on the petition:
- Forward the petition to <email@example.com>
- email <firstname.lastname@example.org> with a subject of '10 sent'
- Remove all 10 signatures from the petition
- Forward the petition to every AUSTRALIAN user you know, EXCEPT ONE.
- If you agree with the petition, add your name and email address (so the
ABA can verify it if they wish) to the next available 'slot'
- Forward the SIGNED copy to the ONE person you didn't forward to in step (3)
For more information about the ABA Investigation, visit:
Note: This Petition is the responsibility of Marjorie N. Wisby
Me? I'm just a piano-player, and this is just a mirror-site.
contents-page for this segment.
an email to Roger
Last Amended: 13 February 1996
| These community
service pages are a joint offering of the Australian National University (which
provides the infrastructure), and Roger Clarke (who provides the content).