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]