An Australian security agency has used federal powers to block Australian access to websites, in the latest development surrounding revived fears of internet censorship.
Bureaucrats at the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, and the Attorney-General's Department separately confirmed at Senate estimates hearings that a total of three departments had requested that ISPs block specific
websites from access within Australia.
The requests, known as section 313 notices, come under 15-year-old legal powers that require telecommunications carriers to cooperate with law enforcement in stopping unlawful use of their services. However, until recently the powers were not
believed to have been widely used for the purpose of blocking websites.
DBCDE deputy secretary Abdul Rizvi said on Thursday that a total of three federal agencies were found to have used the powers to block website access, after a meeting was held on May 22 between 12 federal agencies to determine the scope of the
The bureaucrats conceded they were unsure exactly how much agencies were using the notices, and whether state government departments were also requesting website blocks.
The political party, Katter's Australia Party, has put up a Private Members Bill which would see advertising billboards given classifications from G to MA15+ and also levy a tax on the more risque advertising.
Under the proposal, a censorship panel would be set up to determine the rating of billboards. The panel would also split the state into classification zones , so only G-rated billboards could be shown in a G-classified zone and PG-rated
billboards in PG zones. Only G-rated posters could be anywhere near schools, hospitals, bus stops and sporting fields, while M and MA15+ billboards would be severely restricted to areas rarely frequented by children , such as industrial
The cost of the panel, who and how many people would be on it and how they would make their judgments was yet to be determined by the KAP.
KAP Queensland leader Ray Hopper said the explicit material he would want to see branded MA15+ included signs promoting products that boast longer lasting sex . He said that the scantily-clad women on a Sin City billboard on the M1 would
be unlikely to be acceptable under the proposal. Hopper said the levy should be 10% of the cost of advertising on the billboard.
The proposed Bill is now set to come up for debate some time during the year.
The axing of Stephen Conroy's other pet project, the controversial mandatory internet blocking scheme, will save the government more than $4 million.
According to Budget 2013 papers, the government will achieve savings of $4.5m over three years by not proceeding with mandatory filtering legislation, a move announced in November.
The plan would have forced ISPs to filter web pages that contain refused classification-rated content based on a government blacklist.
Instead, major internet service providers will be required to block child abuse websites on Interpol's worst of child abuse list, and anything else banned by government bodies such as the financial regulator.
Senator Conroy mooted the ea in the lead up to the 2007 election but it has been fraught with delays ever since. The methods employed by the government were deemed impractical and seen as an attempt to censor the internet.
A new law with jail sentences for filming or distributing humiliating or degrading images of people has come into effect in South Australia. However people who film an offence for the purpose of assisting police are protected from prosecution.
Presumably this covers CCTV.
State Attorney General John Rau said the law carrying up to two years' imprisonment was a response to bad behaviour in the digital age.
The Government shares the community's concerns regarding the practice of people being deliberately humiliated via the internet.
Whether it be distributing a private image or video of an ex-partner, or the filming of an assault, you can now expect up to two years in prison.
The law is a reaction to an incident in 2011 where school children at Craigmore High arranged for an unsuspecting student to be king hit which was filmed and put on the internet. Several students were subsequently suspended.