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Au gummint, opposition: site blocks just FINE

There's too much of that pesky Internet, anyway

By Richard Chirgwin, 2 Jun 2015

The Australian government has resisted calls to limit its agencies' ability to demand that telcos and ISPs block Websites it reckons are committing crimes. Rather, the government, with opposition support, wants blocking “guidelines” to be written at some point.

The government initiated an inquiry into the use of “section 313” notices after the hapless Australian Securities and Investment Commission owned up to blocking thousands of innocent Web servers as collateral damage to shut down a couple of fraud operations.

Under a Section 313 notice, telcos and ISPs have to comply with a request to help prevent a crime.

The inquiry was instituted in light of fears that the notices were being over-used and badly-used. Its conclusion? That there aren't enough sites being blocked.

The use of Section 313 notices should, the agency recommends, be subject to all-of-government guidelines, and says agencies need “the requisite level of technical expertise”, and follow “established procedures for drawing on the expertise of other agencies”.

The Register can only hope that nobody considers ASIC's “established procedures” to request site blocks.

Committee chair Jane Prentice cited Telstra's statement, that it had prevented 84,000 Australians from accessing child abuse Websites, as evidence the block was needed.

(Vulture South would counter that such content is already illegal in Australia and can be blocked industry-wide under the ACMA-administered site blocking scheme.)

The report, unironically entitled Balancing Freedom and Protection, is here. ®

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