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17th October

  Classified as a Bit Dull...

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Australian Classification Board publishes its Annual Report for 2013-2014
Link Here
australian classification board 2013 2014 A few snippets from Director Lesley O'Brien's overview:

In this reporting year, the Board made 4156 decisions. This included 4066 commercial classification decisions, 30 classification decisions on internet content referred by the Australian Communications and Media Authority and 60 classification decisions for enforcement agencies.

During the reporting period, 38 publications were audited. One publication had its serial classification revoked as a result of the audit. This decision was subsequently overturned by the Review Board.

Nineteen of the Board's decisions were reviewed by the Classification Review Board in 2013â?�14. These were for the review of the classification for 13 computer games, five films and to review the decision to revoke a serial classification of a publication. Of the 13 computer games reviewed, the original classification remained unchanged. Of the five films reviewed, the original classification for one film remained unchanged. The Review Board decided not to revoke the serial classification for the publication upon review.

On 1 January 2013, an R 18+ category for computer games took effect in conjunction with new Guidelines for the Classification of Computer Games which were agreed to by all state and territory ministers who have responsibility for classification matters.

 

12th October

 Offsite Article: What to do when holy books break the law...

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Australia flag Australia's terrorism laws could criminalise preaching from Qur'an. National imams council tells parliamentary committee that Muslim preachers on social justice could face charges

See article from theguardian.com

 

11th October

  Stop the Spies...

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Website set up to fight Australia's mass internet snooping bill
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stop australia s data retention bill It is a tried and tested technique: fomenting a culture of fear of ceaseless war or terrorism, in order to justify arbitrary and authoritarian incursions on civil liberties back at home. We've read about it in George Orwell's 1984 , we've heard about it being practised by oppressive regimes such as North Korea, and now we're witnessing it first-hand, in our own supposed liberal democracies including the United States , the United Kingdom and now Australia .

The latest shadow over the civil liberties of Australians is a yet-unnamed mandatory data retention bill that will be introduced into the federal parliament during the week of 27 October. Under the flimsy pretext that this measure is urgently needed to fight terrorism (though actually its scope will be far broader ), the bill, if passed, will require Australian Internet providers to scoop up highly personal information about their customers as they use the Internet, and to store it for two years for law enforcement agencies to access.

What you searched for before emailing your lawyer. Who you Skyped with afterwards. Who they have Skyped with. Where you were when chatting with your partner last night. The websites you visit during your lunchbreak. These are just a few examples of the kind of personal information that Australian government agencies will have at their fingertips under this Orwellian law.

Australians have not taken this threat lying down. On 6 October a grassroots website called Stop the Spies was launched to expose this threat and to mobilize ordinary Internet users to stop it. The site contains a form that Australians can use to contact their elected representatives to demand that their privacy be respected, and social media tools to build a network of resistance. If you're not in Australia, perhaps you have Australian friends--if so, you can still help by spreading the word!

 

9th October

 Offsite Article: Censorship in South Australia...

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censorship in south australia Photos showing over the top censorship of 18 rated DVDs

See article from imgur.com

 

7th October

 Offsite Article: Everything is Fucked...

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evrything is fucked Australian artist Acquitted of Obscenity, but Chill of Censorship Endures

See article from hyperallergic.com

 

29th September

 Offsite Article: The Final Whistle...

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australian government logo Security laws pass Australian Senate amid fears over draconian limits to press freedom. National security laws allow whistleblowers to be jailed and give Asio sweeping powers to gather online data

See article from theguardian.com

 

27th September

  Snoopers Win...

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Australian PM announces that balance between freedom and security will now shift to security
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australian government logo This week, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott used recent terrorist threats as the backdrop of a dire warning to Australians that for some time to come, the delicate balance between freedom and security may have to shift. There may be more restrictions on some, so that there can be more protection for others.

This pronouncement came as two of a series of three bills effecting that erosion of freedoms made their way through Australia's Federal Parliament. These were the second reading of a National Security Amendment Bill which grants new surveillance powers to Australia's spy agency, ASIO, and the first reading of a Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Foreign Fighters) Bill that outlaws speech seen as advocating terrorism . A third bill on mandatory data retention is expected to be be introduced by the end of the year.

Whilst all three bills in this suite raise separate concerns, the most immediate concern--because the bill in question could be passed this week --is the National Security Amendment Bill. Introduced into Parliament on 16 July, it endured robust criticism during public hearings last month that led into an advisory report released last week. Nevertheless the bill was introduced into the Senate this Tuesday with the provisions of most concern still intact.

In simple terms, the bill allows law enforcement agencies to obtain a warrant to access data from a computer--so far, so good. But it redefines a computer to mean not only one or more computers but also one or more computer networks . Since the Internet itself is nothing but a large network of computer networks, it seems difficult to avoid the conclusion that the bill may stealthily allow the spy agency to surveil the entire Internet with a single warrant .

Apart from allowing the surveillance of entire computer networks, the bill also allows the addition, deletion or alteration of data stored on a computer, provided only that this would not materially interfere with, interrupt or obstruct a communication in transit or the lawful use by other persons of a computer unless ... necessary to do one or more of the things specified in the warrant . Given the broad definition of computer , this provision is broad enough to authorize website blocking or manipulation, and even the insertion of malware into networks targeted by the warrant.

Capping all this off, the bill also imposes a sentence of up to ten years imprisonment upon a person who discloses information ... [that] relates to a special intelligence operation . Although obviously intended to throw the hammer at whistleblowers, the provision would apply equally to journalists. Such a provision could make it impossible for Australians to learn about the activities of their own government that infringe international human rights laws.

All in all, this sweeping bill would hardly be out of place in the NSA's pantheon alongside the USA PATRIOT Act. But unlike the United States, Australia does not have a written Bill of Rights in its Constitution, making its freedom-abridging laws even harder to challenge in court.

Nevertheless Australia is a signatory to all major regional and global human rights instruments including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which provides that No one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy , and that Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression . Australia, like all other nations of the world, is also addressed by the Necessary and Proportionate Principles that provide more detailed guidance on how to apply international human rights standards in the context of communication surveillance.

It is far from clear that a proper balance can be struck by rushing this draconian bill through Parliament at a time when elevated fear of terrorism may lead to important civil liberties safeguards being forgotten or deliberately overruled. Australians should call on their government, before it is too late, to withdraw this bill for further consideration. If not, this may mark the week in history when it became easier for the Australian government to surveil and manipulate the Internet at will.

 

26th September

 Offsite Article: Australia's most ridiculous instances of video game censorship...

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Saints Row IV Xbox 360 The Australian government seem to think that video games are only for kids but hate both of those terms. They denied even the existence of adults who played games for years, until the R18+ rating was introduced in 2013.

See article from techly.com.au

 

24th September

 Offsite Article: New Australian E-Safety Commissioner could be censorship czar...

Link Here
australian government logo The Australian government is preparing to legislate wide-ranging internet censorship, and hoping that sentence won't scare the hell out of you if they shout children! By Luke McKinney

See article from techly.com.au

Australian Film Classification Board

Australia

The Film Classification Board

The Australian state censor has responsibility for cinema, home video, video games, books and magazines.

Appeals about censorship decisions are heard by the Classification Review Board.

Film & Game Classifications

- G: (General Exhibition) These films and computer games are for general viewing.

- PG: (Parental Guidance) Contains material which some children find confusing or upsetting, and may require the guidance of parents or guardians. It is not recommended for viewing or playing by persons under 15 without guidance from parents or guardians.

- M:  (Recommended for mature audiences) Contains material that is not recommended for persons under 15 years of age.

- MA15+ (Mature Accompanied) The content is considered unsuitable for exhibition by persons under the age of 15. Persons under this age may only legally purchase or exhibit MA15+ rated content under the supervision of an adult guardian.

- R18+ (Restricted) People under 18 may not buy, rent or exhibit these films

- X18+ (Restricted) People under 18 may not buy, rent or exhibit these films. This rating applies to real sex content only

- RC (Refused Classification)Banned

Note that there is no R18+ X18+ available for games so adult games often end up getting banned much to the annoyance of gamers.

Note also that films classified as X18+ (Restricted) are banned from sale or rent in most of Australia. They can only be sold from Northern Territory and ACT (Canberra). Mail order and imports are allowed though and possession of X18+ material is legal

Publication Classifications

 - Unrestricted

- Unrestricted Mature: Not recommended for readers under 15.

- Restricted Category 1: Not available to persons under 18 years. Softcore

- Restricted Category 2 : Not available to persons under 18 years. Only to be sold in adults only shops: Hardcore

- RC: Refused Classification. Banned

Only publications that would be restricted 1 & 2 need to be submitted for censorship. There is also a scheme that magazines only need to be submitted once. Subsequent issues inherit the same rating. However later issues can be 'called in' for reassessment if anything crops up to alert the censors of changes.

Websites:
Classification Board

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