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Australian Regulator Reports Net Censorship Results

2 May 2000

The Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA), the Australian agency responsible for operating the Federal Government's Internet censorship regime, ordered 31 Web pages or other Internet content removed during its first three months of operation.

Reporting on its progress to date, the ABA said it has issued final take-down notices for 31 items of Australian-hosted content, referred 45 items of content to the makers of filtering software and referred 7 items of content to law enforcement agencies.

Under the Broadcasting Services Act amendments, which came into force in Australia at the beginning of the year, the ABA is charged with listening to user complaints about Internet content, and issuing take-down notices if the sites are found to be illegal and hosted in Australia. Overseas-hosted sites may be reported to authorities in the relevant jurisdiction or to filtering software companies for inclusion in their block lists.

By March 31, 2000, the ABA had investigated 99 of 124 complaints made by Internet users to its "online hotline."

"The establishment of the ABA's online-hotline for Internet content complaints means that Internet users in Australia can now have their complaints about offensive material investigated," said David Flint, the ABA's chairman.

"Nevertheless, parents and others responsible for the care and supervision of children should maintain vigilance in relation to the use of the Internet by children," he added.

The rapid growth of the Web and the estimates of the amount of illegal content online suggest that the small number of sites investigated by the ABA are just a drop in the ocean. Many of the Australia-hosted sites that were ordered to be taken down have reported to have moved overseas, some with the same domain name.

The ABA's online complaints form is available on the Web, at www.aba.gov.au/what/online/complaints.htm.

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

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