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Australian Internet Freedoms Group Moves to the U.S.

22 December 1999

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA -- Protesting new Internet laws that will come into effect on January 1, 2000, Australian online freedoms group Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) has packed up its Web site and moved to the U.S.

The Australian group, which was vocal in its opposition to new legislation that restricts locally-hosted online content and requires Internet users to be provided with filtering software, now hosts its Web site at www.efa.org.au, in the U.S.

Greg Taylor, the EFA's Webmaster, said that the move was necessary to avoid the risk of a take-down notice and because, with the lack of any precedent, the group was unsure whether it would need to restrict access to adults.

"In the absence of any precedent for the application of film and video classification guidelines to Internet content, it is impossible for us to know whether anything on our Web site would be 'prohibited content' under the legislation," said Taylor.

Under the new legislation, adult Internet content that would be rated R by the film and video classification board needs to be protected by an approved adult verification system. If it is not, and a complaint is registered about it by the Australian Broadcasting Authority, the hosting provider could be ordered to take it down.

"Although we don't believe we have published anything that might be deemed illegal, our site could well contain material with adult themes, which requires an adult verification system to be implemented," said Taylor. "This would be an obstacle not only for our Australian readers, but also for our extensive overseas audience ... Nothing would cause a potential reader to lose interest faster than having to comply with an onerous and intrusive age verification check."

"Similarly we have no wish to be subject to a take-down notice aimed at silencing us, as some politicians would like to do," he added. "We want to be free to tell the world about the draconian censorship regime in Australia. We have therefore decided to move our Web site with the intent of placing it beyond the whims of Australian regulators."

Reported by Newsbytes.com, www.newsbytes.com.

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