SA Internet Forum Rules Are Chilling, Unworkable

Proposed national Internet censorship laws are reason enough to protest, but South Australia seems determined to make things even worse, with a new law covering what forum posters can say during an election campaign.

As The Advertiser explains, the new law requires anybody writing a blog post or news story relating to a South Australian election, or commenting on an existing story, to provide their full name and postcode. The rule only applies during the period between when an election is called, but the scope of the legislation doesn't make it clear whether it also covers Twitter, Facebook, talkback radio or other mediums.

Now, you'd get no argument from me that anonymous comments aren't necessarily as valuable as those made by people who'll stand up and count for their opinions, but I also think most people are intelligent enough to make up their own minds on these issues. Right now, SA Attorney General Michael Atkinson (the architect of the legislation, and also one of the key reasons we still have such ridiculous gaming classification laws) is giving Stephen Conroy a run for his money as Australia's least technology-friendly politician.

In practice, of course, the whole thing is unworkable. As the story points out, anyone could set up a blog overseas and say whatever they like with no fear of legal reprisals. I also can't see why anyone could prove whether a comment from John Smith with postcode 5000 was real or not. But implementing "symbolic" laws that aren't going to have practical effect still represents a mammoth waste of parliamentary resources.

Labor gags internet debate [The Advertiser]

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Comments

    Why do people continue to use that photo of Atkinson? I hate it! Creeps me out.
    He looks like one of those American God worshipers on cable TV who preach in their stadium sized churches.

    And thats the face of South Australia? Scary.

    And regarding the forum laws. . .
    Whats next? Register with your Credit Card so they can track you if you post something offensive?

      The image is a perfect depiction of his mind...creepy, annoying, a bane on society....and perhaps wants to help children a little too much...

      Name: Stephen Conroy
      Postcode: 2600

    Personally, I think it's a gret idea. Good luck in the election G4C.

    Name: Ronald McDonald
    Postcode: 6969

    *checks calendar*

    Oh come on now. It's a bit early for April Fools jokes isn't it?

    Wait, you're serious?

    *checks address for onion link*

    Wow.

    Keep digging, Mr Atkinson, just a little bit deeper...

    This could be another issue that gamers4croydon could take on, pledge to create legislation that must make the minister/polician include ways to enfore the particular legislation/law they are proposing and if they cannot include a way of enforcing the legislation/law legally then it cannot be brought into the parliment at all

    While I agree that if you have something to say then you should have the gonads to stand by it. However, because there were times and are still times where people in the world whos freedom of speech is repressed, living in fear that the wrong word or loyalty meant a deathsquad at your familys door - I ask what be the purpose of the collecting of this information? And yes the requirement of the media to keep this information for 6 months and hand it over to the electrol commission is collecting data. Does the Federal privacy act cover this? National Privacy Principles extracted from the Privacy Act 1988 1.1
    "An organisation must not collect personal information unless the information is necessary for one or more of its functions or activities" and further on "The organisation must take reasonable steps to ensure that the individual is aware of...... (c) the purposes for which the information is collected"

    What is wrong with this government? I think I might head over to China - they seem to have better rules on the internet.

    The whole internet filter, what you can post on the internet is a load of crap in my opinion. The internet should be free, and free to access what ever is out there.

      Hang on, you're mixing two separate issues together. This fool pictured above is the AG of SA - a STATE polly. The Great Australian Firewall is a federal thing. The two are not linked. Don't confuse the two - it's important we are outraged about BOTH.

      This is a reduction in freedom of the press, and freedom of speech, and I cannot for the life of me work out why this happened. It has a slight smell of Jay and Silent Bob to me - "What the **** is the internet?!"

      The GAF, well, it's just sad. 1 company vs the world = cracked iPhones, Blueray, DVD, etc etc etc. An Australian government thinks it will have more success? Ha. Just try!

    I bet he doesn't even know that the Internet is not a big truck.

    Welcome to Chinralia where we outlaw everything but have no idea how to enforce it.

    Interesting how the online community is "gagged" as soon as someone tries to take Atkinson's seat. And guess what, here comes all the illegal activities that Atkinson alleges that G4C will use.

    Everyone keeps commenting about how the law is unworkable, but it is a law and could be enforced. Just wait for the subpoenas to go out to ISP's demanding details of who made what comment.

    Time to break out the Guy Fawkes masks?

    Postcode: SW1A 0AA

    That is it, I have had enough of our overjealous politicians creating rule after rule about what we can and can not do,... I am moving to China.

    Coming up next: whenever you post a negative review of a game you have to post a scan of your credit card too.

    I'm sure he will enforce this by using the mandatory filtering to block any sits that have comments without details.

    It follows that you create a mandatory filter to block unlawful content, then create laws that must be enforced.

    Apart from being creepy, what if you really don't want your political opinions to be linked to your name? Like say if you feel that your employer or future employer really doesn't need to know that you support the Australian Sex Party, or the Pirate Party. That kind of stuff will follow you forever.

    So your choices are to man up and put your opinions out there regardless of the consequences, or stay silent.

    What if you're chronically shy? And posting anonymously is the only way you are able to share your opinions?

    This sucks.

    I'm furious about this, and I also think it raises a whole other set of problems besides the obvious free speech concerns.

    Aren't we all warned NOT to post publicly identifying information online for cyber-safety reasons? Especially information like this which will make it very very easy for someone to find your home address and phone number... and YOU?

    I wrote a bit of a blog entry about it, although it's not much, I felt I needed to say something about the safety concerns too.
    http://blog.tarynhicks.com.au/online-safety-and-the-south-australian-election-speech-laws/

    Everyone should have worked out by now that between Big Telco, Big Cable and Big Gov the Internetz as we knew it is just about ITA. Unfortunately just not enough people give s@#t to make any meaningful difference, just as they signed away their rights in those ludicrous and laughable "Wars on Whatever".

    As the Gamers4Croydon candidate in the seat of Croydon, I feel the need to express my fury and disgust. I honestly feel chilled by this recent development. It is exactly this sort of iron-fisted censorship and abuse of authority that motivated us to stand up against the government - we are absolutely opposed to such unwarranted censorship of the internet, videogames and other media. Enough of big government at its worst and politicians who take it for granted that the public will keep voting them into power. The people of SA deserve better than the arrogance and disrespect with which they keep being treated by the men and women elected to represent them. The government may not be listening to the people, but Gamers4Croydon damn well are.

    Postcode: 5008

    In regards to the upcoming SA election.. Games and Internet are bad, mkay.

    Actually, I just want to prove the stupidity of the masses by being a total ignorant tool throughout the campaign, stripping your rights at my whim, yet still win the election.

    Iam king, you are mindless drones who cant think for themselves.

    That is all.

    Clearly Atkinson is afraid of people making fun of him and his outdated views during the election season. Other politicians don't care enough to stop it; they probably see benefits from having the law in place too. Atkinson won't be happy until everything he doesn't agree with is banned, blocked, censored or #!&%@*d.

    Hey looks like Atkinson has issued a press release saying effectively that he was wrong, that the legislation will be repealed retrospectively and in the interim it will not be enforced.

    Solid points to the media, including Lifehacker, for making noise about this issue.

    Setting up a blog hosted overseas doesn't necessarily make you safe; Joe Gutnick successfully sued an online version of a US magazine for defamation. The judge ruled that since the web site was accessible in Australia, it was 'published' in Australia.

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