to the
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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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:
    1. 'mirroring' a site (duplicating it's entire contents on one or more other sites); or
    2. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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:

In conclusion then, we:

Thankyou for your time.

No Name Email address












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