The Government "Downunder" Attempts to Censor the Net

The Government "Downunder" Attempts to Censor the Net

Geoffrey A. Sandy (Victoria University, Australia)
Copyright: © 2002 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-931777-15-5.ch020


In western tradition information ethics has its origins in Athenian democracy. It was characterised by an oral culture and freedom of speech. Later, after a great struggle, freedom of written expression was added. In this age of electronic networks freedom of access to the Internet must be added. Currently, this freedom is under sustained attack worldwide. The Australian Government has joined this attack with the passage of the “Broadcasting Services Amendment (Online Services) Bill 1999. The legislative purpose is to regulate access to content that is offensive to a “reasonable adult” and unsuitable for children. This chapter reports the results of an analysis of the primary sources regarding the Bill. Specifically, it reports on the important issues that were addressed in the parliamentary hearings and debates. It also comments on the success of the legislation after 8 months of operation. Documentation of the Australian experience should inform other countries that are currently attempting to understand and resolve these complex issues, or for those who will attempt to do so in the future.

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