Australia Censorship News

 2010: Jan-March

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31st March   

Update: Dawn of the Gamers...

Hundreds of zombies protest a lack of Australian adult rating for games
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

r18 zombies A public demonstration against the lack of an R18+ rating in Australia, which featured marchers dressed as zombies, went off without a hitch—but with plenty of lurching—in Sydney over the weekend.

Rhys Wilson, head of the group Aus Gamers Limited which organized the protest, wrote on Facebook, I want to thank each and every one of you guys for making yesterday easily one of the best days of my life. I haven't heard any complaints from anyone, and I'm more than happy to do this again later in the year, assuming I'm not killed in a freak manure truck accident.

IT Wire estimated the crowd of gathered ghouls at between 500 and 600 strong, easily surpassing a November 2009 similarly-themed march, which drew around 175 participants.

 

29th March   

Update: US Concerns about Australian Censorship...

How can US criticise Chinese internet censorship when Australia is just as bad
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

Australian Chinese flag The Obama administration has questioned the Rudd government's plan to introduce an internet filter, saying it runs contrary to the US's foreign policy of encouraging an open internet to spread economic growth and global security.

Officials from the State Department have raised the issue with Australian counterparts as the US mounts a diplomatic assault on internet censorship by governments worldwide.

The news is a blow to Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, who is defending the plan for internet companies to mandatorily block swathes of websites.

That the US government joins a widening coalition of agencies with concerns about the plan is sure to turn up the political heat on Senator Conroy.

Responding to questions about the filter, commentary website The Punch reports today that US State Department spokesman Noel Clay has raised concerns on the filter plan: The US and Australia are close partners on issues related to cyber matters generally, including national security and economic issues . We do not discuss the details of specific diplomatic exchanges, but can say that in the context of that ongoing relationship, we have raised our concerns on this matter with Australian officials.

 

25th March   

Updated: Game On...

Michael Atkinson quits as South Australia's Attorney General
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

michael atkinson The long running refusenik for an adult ratings for games has resigned from his post of South Australia's Attorney General. He will continue to represent his constituency of Croydon though.

Based on article from australiangamer.com

Despite winning his election (Gamers 4 Croydon only gained about 1% of the vote), Michael Atkinson has decided that amount of trouble his position has brought him isn't worth the effort anymore - and it's not just the R18+ debacle that has brought him down. He's also had trouble trying to bring in a law that would censor people from using Fake names online. That one backfired when his example of a Liberal sock puppet turned out to be a real person living in his constituency.

So while G4C may not have won their seat, they still seemed to have managed to achieve one of their aims. Let's hope the new Attorney General sees reason and the R18 debate can be put to rest.

Update: Election Games

23rd March 2010. Based on article from gamepolitics.com

gamers4croydon logo Pre-election, Atkinson claimed that no one cared about the lack of an R18+ rating in Australia other than gamers and also predicted that the Gamer4Croydon party would struggle to receive one percent of the votes.

Well, in Croydon, according to ABC.net election data, Gamers4Croydon's candidate against Atkinson, Kat Nicholson, managed to achieve 3.7% of the vote, assisting in eating away at 14.4% of Atkinson's vote from the previous election. Despite that erosion, Atkinson still won rather easily however, garnering 52.7% of the vote. Nicholson came in fifth out of seven candidates in the Croydon suburb, besting candidates from the Family First Party and Australian Democratic Party.

In a post on the G4C website entitled Here's Your 1%, President Chris Prior expressed pride at what the upstart party accomplished:

With so very little to work with, we have contributed to two other incumbents losing their seats, and all of our lower house candidates polled higher than the 1% we apparently wouldn't get. In the upper house, we outpolled the majority of groups, including a significant number with more resources, more experience, and much more time.

Update: New Attorney-General said to be pro R18+

25th March 2010. Based on article from smh.com.au

gamers4croydon logo The South Australian premier has announced that former backbencher John Rau will replace Michael Atkinson as Attorney-General of the state.

Chris Pryor of the Games4Croydon party said last night via Twitter that the long-serving Rau is a supporter of the R18+ classification for games (and a nice guy to boot) .

Pryor blogged on Monday that seeing the role of Attorney-General filled by someone other than Mr Atkinson was a primary founding goal of Gamers4Croydon . With less than 6 months to prepare, no political experience, and only a few thousand dollars funding, we have achieved that goal. Unfortunately there are never any guarantees in politics, but we have removed the largest impediment to classification reform.

The next meeting of the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General is held in Melbourne on April 29. It is not yet known whether the introduction of an R18+ games rating will be discussed.

 

25th March   

Update: Googling for 'Bollox'...

Google and Yahoo! criticise Australia's internet censorship
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

Australian Chinese flag Yahoo! and Google have criticised Australia's plans to enmesh the nation into a sophisticated internet censorship structure, which, according to some, will restrict freedom of internet by prohibiting access to legal information.

Statements made by Yahoo and Google are among the 174 complaints submitted by the public regarding the internet filtering proposal, which will soon go into review.

Commenting on the controversial internet filter, Lucinda Barlow of Google Australia said in a statement that moving to a mandatory ISP-level filtering regime with a scope that goes well beyond such material is heavy-handed and can raise genuine questions about restrictions on access to information.

Yahoo representatives on the other hand, pointed that the technological advanced internet filter has the potential to go beyond blocking child pornography to blocking socially controversial content like gay and lesbian issues.

 

19th March   

Update: Slow Pass Filter...

Australian internet censorship delayed
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

Australian Chinese flag The Rudd Government's nasty internet filter legislation is still being drafted and is unlikely to be debated in parliament until at the middle of June and might be pushed back even further.

Internet lovers, gamers, media - journalists, entrepreneurs and lovers or freedom of expression have been rejoicing and see the latest development as a victory of sorts in the internet control war .

Australian Communications Minister Stephen Conroy had originally planned for the filter to be debated this week, but his office confirmed the drafting of the legislation was still not finalised and discussions with ISPs and other stakeholders on outstanding issues were still taking place.

The Government will take the time to ensure that it gets the legislative framework right, advised a spokesprat for Senator Conroy: Discussions with ISPs and owners of high traffic sites on the implementation of ISP filtering are ongoing. The Government is also considering the responses to the consultation paper on improved transparency and accountability measures which will feed into the legislative framework.

The Bill will be introduced when these processes are completed, the spokesprat said.

It is currently unclear whether the internet filtering plan has a hope in hell of getting through the Senate.

The Greens are opposed to the scheme, and the opposition says while it supports in principle measures to protect children online, it has reservations about mandatory ISP level filtering.Shadow communications spokesman Tony Smith said the coalition will wait until the draft legislation is tabled before it formalises a policy on the issue

 

18th March   

Update: Censoria Dramatica...

Australian government seek to prosecute US website for offending Aboriginees
Link Here

Encyclopedia Dramatica You would think after all these years on the internet we would have figured out how to deal with basic jurisdictional issues, but there are still plenty of countries who think that the laws in their country can reach over borders and be applied to people and websites in completely different countries, just because they don't like it.

The latest such example involves the guy who runs Encyclopedia Dramatica, which might be simply described as... 4chan's version of Wikipedia. However you want to describe it, it's filled with content you probably don't want your mom looking at. But, it's quite an institution at this point.

But it turns out that the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission (HREOC) is upset about a deliberately offensive article about Aborigines, and is threatening to take the site's operator, Joseph Evers, to court. The thing is, the stuff on Encyclopedia Dramatica are deliberately offensive to pretty much everyone. That's the point. But the nice thing about the internet is that if you don't like that sort of thing, you can avoid it. Furthermore, Evers is in the US and isn't breaking any US laws.

It also turns out that Encyclopedia Dramatica is apparently on Australia's secret censorship filter list.

 

17th March   

Update: Hidden Face of Censorship...

Australian R18+ campaigners mysteriously have their Facebook page banned
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

Australlia Grow Up logo Citing a supposed violation of its terms of use, social website Facebook has removed the group page of the pro R18+ organization Grow Up Australia .

A message from Facebook, while not specific, offered that groups that are hateful, threatening or obscene are not allowed. Additionally, Facebook removes groups that attack an individual or group, or advertise a product or service. The group had boasted around 37,000 members before its removal.

While a logical guess might theorize that members of the group had posted hateful comments about a certain South Australian Attorney General, Grow Up Australia wrote that it did not believe that any administrator-provided content had provoked the ban, and that it had also been vigilant in moderating member content.

The group has setup a Facebook Fan Page while it attempts to lobby Facebook to reinstate its group page.

 

14th March   

Update: Out of the Shadows...

Shadow treasurer opposes Australian government internet censorship
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

joe hockey Shadow treasurer Joe Hockey has launched an attack on the Australian government's internet filtering scheme, in one of the first cases of a senior Opposition figure coming out publicly against the policy.

What we have in the government's Internet filtering proposals is a scheme that is likely to be unworkable in practice. But more perniciously it is a scheme that will create the infrastructure for government censorship on a broader scale, said Hockey in a wide-ranging speech on freedom to the Grattan Institute.

Hockey said that of course people wanted to stop unlawful material being viewed on the internet, and that there were appropriate protections that are in place for that. But I have personal responsibility as a parent, he added. If I want to stop my children from viewing other material that I feel is inappropriate then that is my responsibility to do something about it – not that of the government.

Protecting liberty is about protecting freedoms against both known and future threats. Some may argue that we can surely trust a democratically-elected government in Australia to never try to introduce more wide-spread censorship. I am not so sure!

Ultimately Hockey used the speech to strongly push the cause of individual liberty in Australian society. Quoting Benjamin Franklin, he said: Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

 

14th March   

A Bum Rap...

Australian police arrest man for the strong language in rap music playing on his car stereo
Link Here

Welcome In what could be a legal test case, 19-year-old Nathan Michael Wilkie faces a charge of offensive behaviour after Asutralian police arrested him when he was listening to music by underground rapper Kid Selzy on his car stereo, the Herald Sun reports.

The Warrnambool Magistrates' Court heard he was listening to lyrics such as "shut your fucking mouth bitch, fucking motherfucker" .

The court was told the arresting officers found the music offensive and derogatory to females.

Wilkie allegedly told officers: You're a joke, go do some real police work.

The man is believed to be the first person charged under Australian law with offensive behaviour for listening to music.

Through his lawyer, Amanda Chambers, Wilkie plans to plead not guilty when his case continues on June 11.

Police are expected to play Kid Selzy's latest album, The Creepshow , at the next hearing.

 

12th March   

Update: Artless Censors...

Australia strips out artistic defence from laws governing images of children
Link Here  full story: Art Censorship in Australia...Getting wound up by children in art

Australian Film Classification Board Australia is planning on forcing artists who create images of nude children to pay a fee of $500 per image to have them classified by the government as genuine art and not child pornography.

The removal of the so-called artistic purpose defense is one part of across-the-board changes to child pornography laws announced by Attorney-General John Hatzistergos that were spurred nearly two years ago by the case of artist Bill Henson, whose photo exhibit featuring images of naked children sparked intense debate throughout the country. Despite being later approved by the classification board, the case highlighted the need for more clarity with respect to images of child sexual abuse.

The new definition will encompass what is termed child abuse material, said Hatzistergos. That means it covers depictions that reasonable persons would, in all the circumstances, regard offensive.

Those depictions, he said, would include where the person is a child who is a victim [of] cruelty, physical abuse, the child is engaged or is apparently engaged in a sexual pose or sexual activity. It also will apply when the child is in the presence of someone engaging in any of these activities or where the private parts of the person [who] appears to be a child are shown.

 

8th March   

Update: Sanity Starts to Prevail...

Green MPs will vote against Australian internet censorship
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

australian greens logo Australian Greens MP, Lee Rhiannon, said at the National Day of Action against the government's internet filter that all five Greens senators will vote against the internet filtering Bill.

We absolutely need to defeat this incredibly irresponsible piece of legislation that is now before the federal parliament, she said to attendees in Parramatta Park in Sydney. My colleagues in the federal parliament — we have five Greens senators — will vote against it. What we need to ensure is that some sanity starts to prevail and that we win the numbers.

The filter curtailed freedom of speech, she said. There were also better ways to protect children against pornography, such as education, which she said had been pointed out by a 2008 report written by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

That's a report to the government. They've been told that. We know they've been told [that] by a lot of their MPs who actually understand how the internet works. They've been told about this by official government bodies, but they're pushing on with their censorship.

So I do urge all of you when you leave here today to take away a commitment to sign the petitions, to write your letters, to write your emails, ring up the politicians, she said.

Fewer than 100 people at any one time actually showed up at Saturday morning's protest in Parramatta Park in Sydney's west. There are a number of MPs who do not support this legislation and are saying to their leaders, to Mr Abbot and Mr Rudd: 'This is madness. It will not work. It will make us look like a fool internationally, let alone amongst Australians once they catch on.'

Debate had begun, she said. Now, the community needed to give it legs by voicing disapproval.

 

7th March   

Update: High Score...

Australian games for adult consultation receives 55,000 responses
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

R18+ banned Australians, it seems, are more than a little interested in the issue of video game classification. Figures released by the Federal Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O'Connor show that more than 55,000 submissions were received into the recently completed public submission process on whether Australia should introduce an R18+ rating for games, with the Minister stating that the large response rate indicated a high level of interest in this issue in the Australian community.

O'Connor said the Federal Attorney General's Department would now prepare a report on the consultation for the Standing Committee of Attorneys General (SCAG), a group made up of all of Australia's various Federal, State, and Territory AGs. The introduction of an R18+ rating needs the unanimous approval of all SCAG members, with the next SCAG meeting due in April this year.

The high number of responses follows a concerted campaign by video game activists around the nation to drum up interest in the debate. Independent advocacy group Grow Up Australia's partnership with retailer EB Games netted more than 16,000 responses, with an EB Games spokesperson saying the company solicited a further 30,000 submissions.

 

7th March   

Update: Category 2 Freedom...

Softcore porn mags banned from sale in Queensland
Link Here  full story: Magazine Censorship in Australia...Barely Legal winds up Australia'n nutters

Queensland flag Brisbane's Sexpo may be celebrating its 10th birthday, but organisers say local residents still don't get a full frontal experience.

Essentially it's knickers on at Sexpo Brisbane, Sexpo general manager Rob Godwin said: One of the biggest challenges in having Sexpo in Queensland is fitting around the legislation.

Queensland has the nation's strictest laws on the sale of adult magazines, meaning the Brisbane show has fewer products on sale than similar shows in Sydney and Melbourne.

While print publications with M+15 restrictions such as Zoo or Penthouse are legal in Queensland, Restricted Category 1 softcore and Category 2 hardcore material is unable to be bought or sold in the state.

Category 1 magazines can be displayed for sale in all other States and Territories when in sealed, opaque wrapping and bought by customers with proof of age; Category 2 magazines may be sold to adults from prescribed, registered or restricted areas.

Godwin said Australian laws on the levels of nudity permissible in adult performances and the ban on X-rated films cost him up to $4 million dollars in potential profits, based on similar sex shows in New Zealand and Germany where X-rated content commonly took up over two thirds of floor space.

Under the Classification of Films Act 1991, the making, display and sale of such objectionable films that, if classified, would carry an X rating carries a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment.

Fiona Patten of Australian Sex Party said: Quite often, when you ban something you create a much higher demand for it. You certainly see that when you look at Australia at large, where we sell more explicit adult films per capita then places like Norway or Denmark where it's all much more legal and relaxed.

 

5th March   

All Practical Measures...

Rudd considers an ombudsman to censor material on social networking websites
Link Here

Facebook logo Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said he would consider introducing an internet ombudsman after Facebook tributes to two dead children were defaced with pornography.

Rudd said he would look into an idea put forward by Independent Senator Nick Xenophon to appoint an official who would be responsible for taking complaints and action against such material.

We actually need to do everything we can to combat cyber crime, Rudd said: The role of cyber crime and internet bullying on children is, frankly, frightening and we need to be deploying all practical measures.

Memorial pages on the social networking site for eight-year-old Trinity Bates and Elliott Fletcher, 12, who were allegedly murdered in separate incidents this month, have been vandalised with offensive material.

 

5th March   

Offsite: The Devil is in the Detail...

Australian magazine censors discuss labial details
Link Here

interview detail Hungry Beast is an Australian blog associated with ABC TV.

Hungry Beast interviewed National Classification Board member Greg Scott about the rules regarding nudity in Unrestricted vs Restricted Category publications.

A fascinating interview with a censor squirming over the level of labial detail allowed in the various levels of classifications of magazines.

...Read full article

 

3rd March   

Next Mandatory TV Filtering?...

Australia to develop its own TV parental control standard
Link Here

ACMA logo The Australian Communications and Media Authority is seeking industry and public comment on the determination of a technical standard that will make parental lock a required feature for digital television receivers.

A parental lock is a feature of digital television receivers which allows controlled access to programs based on their classification, for example, G, PG, M or MA.

Mandating the inclusion of parental lock in digital receivers will support parents and guardians in protecting their children from inappropriate or harmful content on television, said ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman.

The ACMA will determine a technical standard in the second quarter of this year that will require domestic reception equipment used for receiving digital television services to have a parental lock capability.

The ACMA has developed a discussion paper to outline the approach it intends to take in determining the parental lock standard, and now seeks comment on a number of issues concerning determination of this technical standard.

The ACMA is seeking to understand industry and public views on:

  • whether there are any particular types of digital television receivers that should be exempt from meeting the requirements of the standard;
  • the need for labelling and record-keeping obligations as part of the compliance arrangements that accompany the standard
  •  the date by which equipment supplied to the market should comply with the standard.

The ACMA will consider submissions received before it determines the parental lock standard. The closing date for comment is 2 April 2010.

 

2nd March   

Update: Opposing a Censorial Government...

Australian opposition parties speak favourably of R18+ for games
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

australian greens logo Greens Senator Scott Ludlam said the Greens plan to stay ahead of the R18+ debate in 2010.

The Greens don't have a formal position on the absence of an R18+ classification for video games just yet, Ludlam said. We plan on being informed by the material that comes through in the public consultation, and we'll be forming an official stance soon.

Personally, I've formed a view, and I suspect my colleagues have as well. We want to stay ahead of the debate this year, and we're already talking to the industry and to people with a range of different views.

My personal stance is that [the absence of an R18+ for games] is a real anomaly. I think it's making the situation worse. We know that in some instances material that should otherwise be classified R18+ is instead diverted into the MA15+ category. That's a sign that there needs to be some kind of reform. I think we do need R18+ for games, but only on the condition that there is a good look at the way that we classify video games in this country to make sure that some of the very real concerns that have been raised by parents and child protection groups are acknowledged as well.

Ludlam believes the public consultation will result in a solid base of reasonably well-researched support for a change to the system. His views on South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson are not so positive.

I think the position he took to block the rest of the country from moving forward was really unhelpful, and I don't think he necessarily provided the arguments to back up the position he took.

These thoughts are echoed by marginal parties Australian Sex Party (ASP) and the Pirate Party Australia, who both support the introduction of R18+ for games.

ASP founder Fiona Patten says, quite frankly, that Australia's classification system is fucked. Having worked as a lobbyist and an activist for the adult industry for nearly 20 years, I became demoralised by the fact that in 2008 we had more censorship than when I started, Patten said. There is simply no consistency across mediums in our classification system--what is legal in a book is not legal in a magazine, what is legal in a magazine is not legal in a film, and what is legal in a film is not legal in a video game. Personally, I think we should throw out the existing system and start again.

In a similar vein, the Pirate Party Australia also supports R18+ for games, releasing a press statement earlier this month expressing disgust at Michael Atkinson's stance on censorship. Matt Redmond, a Pirate Party spokesperson, said: Every citizen in a democracy has the right to question the government, and in doing so has the right to protect himself from censure.

 

2nd March   

Offsite: An Adult Approach to Censorship...

Ban on games for adults fails to reflect Australian community standards
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

paul hunt A former member of Australia's Classification Board has submitted an incredibly well-written and reasoned response to the government issued Discussion Paper, regarding the topic of adding an R18+ rating category for games.

The 17-page response was crafted by Paul J Hunt, who served as Deputy Director of the Classification Board and as a senior executive with the Office of Film and Literature Classification. He also lists himself as a parent of teenagers who play computer games and a child of Seniors who play computer games.

Hunt begins his argument by imparting first-hand knowledge into the current problems with the rating system:

When I made a decision, or participated in a decision, that a computer game was unsuitable for minors, I was forced to refuse classification for that game. It was not because I thought that the game depicted, expressed or otherwise dealt with matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a way that it would offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults. It was simply because the game was not OK for kids.

Not being able to restrict computer games to adults was an impediment to my ability to reflect Australian community standards.

..Read full Paul Hunt's Consultation Response [pdf]

 

27th February   

Update: Ruddy Well Won't Apologise...

Kevin Rudd responds to internet filtering TV questions
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship
Kevin Rudd

  Apologise, me?

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd threw more wood on the fiery debate about the government's internet filtering plans, saying it wouldn't apologise for pushing ahead with the initiative.

The politician took several strongly worded questions from a viewer of Channel 7's Sunrise program, who asked why the government was implementing a plan that he claimed would fail in its objective to protect the children, and whether Rudd could guarantee business would not suffer a loss in productivity from decreased internet speeds.

In response he neglected to mention the wide range of banned material such as 18 rated mainstream video games. Instead Rudd pointed to just part of the Refused Classification material the filter aims to block. What does it involve? Acts of child abuse. Acts of sexual abuse against children, including material which also provides 'how to' kits in terms of conducting terrorist acts . I think this stuff is filthy, I can't stand it. I think these are the right measures. You're running a business, we're pro-internet, but we don't make apologies for this.

The news came as efforts have stepped up within Rudd's own party to push an amendment to the legislation to implement an opt-out option for Australians who don't want their internet to be filtered. Labor Senator Kate Lundy is hoping to gain the support of other Labor MPs and senators in the days before the legislation is tabled in Federal Parliament.

Australia's Pirate Party last night said the opt-out idea was censorship lite and a hollow response to community concerns that the filtering project could lead to legitimate online information being blocked off from Australians.

Facebook logoOn Sunrise , Rudd also commented on the supposedly offensive material being posted on social networking site Facebook related to several traumatic events in Queensland, such as the death of schoolgirl Trinity Bates.

Rudd said he would investigate an idea being promoted by Sunrise and Independent Senator Nick Xenophon to set-up an online ombudsman to deal with such complaints. He said it was obvious which material went too far, and rejected any criticism that it was draconian to address offensive online material: This is where we get into this really stupid debate, with what I describe as extreme civil libertarianism, which says any such move in that direction means soviet communism, a'la 1980 . Look, it's not like that. People out there, mums and dads, they know where the balance lies.

 

26th February   

Offsite: Head in the Clouds...

Oz censorship debate censored on Comms minister's website
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

Conroy cloudIf you're planning to censor free speech on the internet, what better approach to take than to, er, censor debate about how you're planning to censor free speech on the internet? Brilliant.

That, according to one sharp-eyed Register reader, is the game being played by Australian Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, whose ministerial website is currently set up so as not to show searches on embarrassing terms such as ISP filtering .

...Read full article

 

26th February   

Updated: Grow Up Australia...

Major Australian retailer supports R18+ for video games
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

Grow Up petition Australia's largest videogame retailer has joined the movement to add an R18+ rating category for interactive entertainment.

EBGames is promoting its pro R18+ stance in all 350 of its Australian storefronts, where it will display signage and offer shoppers the ability to sign a petition. The retailer is also promoting the cause on its website and linking to an online petition for those in favour of adding the adult rating category.

Kotaku reports that EBGames did its due diligence in advance of publically supporting the issue; the company polled its customers on the issue and found that 84% were in favour of the addition of an R18+ rating category.

EB Managing Director Steve Wilson said: With the release of the Government's discussion paper, we knew as a company that we needed to act on this issue as it continues to cripple our industry and cost local jobs. We did however want to be sure that our customers were as passionate about the matter as we are. This is not a call for violent video games, but rather a call for a better classification system that brings Australia in line with the rest of the world and other Australian entertainment industries, such as films.

Update: Petition of 16,000

26th February 2010.  See article from gamepolitics.com

The partnering of advocacy group Grow Up Australia and retailer EB Games has resulted in strong backing for the addition of an R18+ rating category for videogames in Australia.

GameSpot reports that the pair's initiative has resulted in 16,055 signatures on their pro R18+ petition, which will now be sent to the Attorney General's department. EB Games had called attention to the movement via in-store signage and with links and images on its website.

Public responses to the Discussion Paper are due by February 28. Following the submission period, responses will be compiled into a report for Minister of Home Affairs Brendan O'Connor and other state and territory Attorney Generals.

 

25th February   

Update: A Stereotypically Censorial Race...

Australia quick to propose extending state internet filtering facilities to include alleged racist material
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

Australian Human Rights Commission logoThe Australian Government is considering a blitz on online racism, including the possibility of extending the proposed internet filter to block anything moderately deemed as racist content.

Australian Attorney-General Robert McClelland has requested that the Australian Human Rights Commission undertake a sweeping review of arrangements for dealing with racist material on the internet .

According to Fairfax Media, options on the table include providing the Human Rights Commission with the power to order internet service providers to remove racist content.

While freedom of expression is one of the most fundamental rights, this is not at the expense of the rights of people, while using the internet, to be treated with equality, dignity and respect, McClelland said.

Fairfax notes that such changes – which are opposed by civil libertarians – could have significant ramifications for online news websites that offer readers the opportunity to comment, and for ISPs working with the commission to voluntarily remove racist material.

The proposals would shift liability to website owners for comments made by others, an outrageous attack on social and new media. Having said that, it's not that surprising giving the nanny state Australian Government is planning to introduce Chinese style censorship this year as well. Goebbels would be proud.

 

22nd February   

Update: Unwanted...

Australian online public not impresses by mandatory state internet censorship
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

EFA lgoElectronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) have welcomed survey results showing Australian Internet users might not vote Labor again at the next election due to Internet filtering.

The preliminary results of the Australian Broadband Survey 2009, conducted by Whirlpool, found that 92% respondents did not support the idea of mandatory Internet filtering.

The survey also found 83% of respondents said that the introduction of mandatory Internet filtering might affect their vote at the next Federal election.

The results highlight widespread community disagreement with the Government's plan, said Peter Black, EFA's campaign manager. These results also show that Australians believe the Government would be better off focusing on increased education and law enforcement, instead of an impractical and costly policy of Government censorship.

When asked what the Government should focus on in terms of internet safety, 82% supported educating parents, 64% said educating children, 44% said law enforcement, 42% said subsidising desktop filter software, and 34% said subsidising ISP-level opt-in filters, with only 3% supporting mandatory Internet filtering.

The survey was successfully completed and verified 21,775 times by respondents aged 18 years of age or older. The full results of the Survey are expected to be published soon.

These results confirm that people who understand the issue overwhelming oppose the Government's policy, Black said: The big challenge now is to win the hearts and minds of ordinary Australians, who perhaps aren't particularly computer or Internet savvy.

That is why last week EFA launched the Open Internet campaign, centred around a new website, OpenInternet.com.au , blog, and Facebook fan page, that together will act as campaign hub for all the different individuals and organisations that are campaigning against the Government's mandatory Internet filtering policy.

 

19th February   

Update: Censor Cuts Mean Income Cuts...

Australian video games trade organisation, iGEA, criticises lack of R18+
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

The lack of an R18+ classification for electronic games has been linked to an increase in piracy and poor sales of titles that were toned-down to meet Australia's top M15+ rating.

Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (iGEA) CEO Ron Curry said while Australia is pondering introducing an R18+ rating for games, Australian retailers were losing money to piracy and overseas imports.

Sales are significantly less for modified games, Curry said. People will import the full unmodified game over the Internet or get a pirate version.

Local Sega game developer Dan Toose said the classification laws did not have a big impact on Australian game development, but said it could cost developer studios millions to redesign titles to be passed under the M15+ rating.

What really takes the time is quality assurance testing, which can take more than two weeks... it can cost modern game development studios half a million dollars a month to [modify] games, Toose said. It is bad to put that on the shoulders of developers.

Toose said the opposition to the law makes no sense whatever because the R18+ classification was recognised as distinctly adult content. He said the new rating would stop children being exposed to more graphic content that is squeezed into the M15+ rating under the current scheme.

 

19th February   

Update: Australian State Discrimination...

Discriminatory ban on Aboriginal access to porn slammed
Link Here  full story: Discriminatory Porn Ban in Australia...Porn is banned in Aboriginal communities

An Aboriginal legal aid group has slammed anti-pornography measures in remote communities, telling a Senate inquiry that provisions of the NT intervention portray indigenous men as pedophiles.

Vernon Patullo of the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency said there had been no increase in the number of people in communities being prosecuted for possessing pornography since signs announcing a pornography ban were erected as part of the 2007 federal intervention.

Speaking at a Senate inquiry into welfare reforms, Patullo, an East Arnhem Land elder, said the pornography ban was a beat-up and had no substance at all . I have never seen a blue movie in a remote community, Patullo said in Darwin yesterday: These signs label people as pedophiles. It has portrayed our men as molesters.

Patullo's views form part of NAAJA's submission to the Senate inquiry, which was set up by the Greens to canvas public opinion on proposed welfare reforms and other special measures introduced as part of the federal intervention.

Community Services Minister Jenny Macklin wants to roll back blanket income management, reinstate the Racial Discrimination Act and focus instead on individuals at risk, in a model that could be expanded nationally.

 

18th February   

Offsite: Serial Censorship...

Australian censors ignored by magazine publishers
Link Here  full story: Magazine Censorship in Australia...Barely Legal winds up Australia'n nutters

Donald McDonaldTwice yearly the Australia's chief censor, Donald McDonald, reports to nutter senators on matters censorial.

This year he highlighted a certain ineffectiveness in the censorship of adult magazines.

Donald McDonald explained:

In estimates hearings senators have expressed concerns about the illegal sale of some adult magazines—concerns shared by the board. Continuing the practice I have described to you in recent hearings, I have called in for classification 440 adult films and 36 adult magazines since July 2009. Unfortunately, none of the publishers of these films and magazines complied with these notices; thus, they have all been referred to relevant state and territory law enforcement agencies for appropriate attention and action. I am not in a position to advise you what actions these agencies may or may not have taken with regard to these referrals.

The board continues to audit adult magazines that are covered by a serial classification declaration, and since July the board has revoked the classification of seven magazines which featured content not permitted in the classification. This revocation also applies to future issues of that publication covered by the declaration. While the board has been conducting rigorous audits since the first serial declarations were granted, our audit schedule will be increased from this year onward to include an audit of every periodical covered by a declaration to ensure that publishers do not abuse the system by including higher level or entirely illegal content.

Since we last met, the board has also given further consideration to the issuing of serial declarations. When deciding whether to issue a serial classification declaration, the board considers, among other things, the classification history of the periodical, statements from the applicant about the content of future issues and how the applicant intends to comply with conditions imposed by the board. Given the recent history of noncompliance by some distributors, the board has been tending to issue shorter serial declarations—up to 12 months, rather than 24 months.

...Read full article

 

18th February   

Offsite: Interview with a Censor...

AustraliaGamer interview games censor
Link Here

Australian Film Classification Boardaustraliangamer.com interviewed an Australian games censor:

I had the pleasure of interviewing a Senior Member of the Classification Board (who shall remain nameless because we don't want to be the cause or effect of anything against the board). The questions were fair, as you will see, and the answers were really good. Like I said this really opened my eyes and I now have a new found respect for the job of a Classifier on this board.

...Read full article

 

17th February   

Update: Refused Censorship...

Australian Library Association joins in the criticism of internet censorship plan
Link Here  full story: Magazine Censorship in Australia...Barely Legal winds up Australia'n nutters

ALIA logoAustralia's strongest critics have been swift and vocal in their condemnation of the filtering, citing concerns over freedom of speech, and referring to the filter as handing control of the internet to the moral minority .

But there still fears among those with more moderate views that the filtering system might be a step too far, with groups such as the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) and the Inspire Foundation claiming that the subjects covered by Refused Classification are too diverse to successfully implement a ban.

And now search giants Google and Yahoo have joined in the call for the Australian government to rethink the controversial plan, making public their submissions to the government's consultation process.

 

16th February   

Update: Disappearing Childhood...

The Art Censorship Guide published in Australia
Link Here  full story: Art Censorship in Australia...Getting wound up by children in art

Art Censorship Guide After her exhibition was closed and her house raided by police, the Archibald Prize-winning artist Cherry Hood made a pivotal decision. She would no longer depict nude children but would concentrate on portraits instead. About a decade on, she has never returned to the subject that provoked the police action.

The works were of naked girls aged about four upwards, onto which she painted penises. They were a comment on gender stereotyping, a theme that has long concerned Hood. All the images of girls were photographs in freely available publications.

Her case is outlined in The Art Censorship Guide , just published by the National Association for the Visual Arts. It is a reminder that action against artists has a long history in Australia.

But Hood's decision to change her art practice is one many artists are facing in the wake of the Bill Henson controversy, according to NAVA's executive director, Tamara Winikoff. The introduction a year ago of Australia Council guidelines for working with children has increased the pressure on artists to steer away from contentious subjects.

It's meant that people who may not have taken any notice have now become self-conscious, Winikoff says. It means that the critical role that art can play is being silenced.

NAVA's guide argues that the visual arts are the prime target for censors and zealots. It provides information about threats to artistic freedom and how to deal with them, outlining the existing laws, the role of key bodies including the Classification Board, and provides advice on what to do if the police call.

The 100-page guide encourages artists to speak up if a work is censored or restricted or if an artist is intimidated.

No Australian artist has been found guilty of exploiting or harming children within their art practice as far as NAVA is aware. Existing laws are adequate and the Australia Council guidelines are having a chilling effect on the making and distributing of images of children, Winikoff says: Perfectly legitimate images of children are disappearing from the public domain because everybody is too nervous, she says.

 

13th February   

Update: High Score...

R18+ for games consultation off to a very positive start
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

Grow Up petition Only 1% of processed responses to government survey against an adult rating for games; more than 6,000 responses received in total so far.

A Senate Estimates Committee Hearing last week unveiled that out of 1,084 processed responses thus far, only 11 had been anti-R18+.

The government's public consultation process is aiming to find out the Australian public's view on the introduction of an adult classification for games in Australia and was launched by the Federal Attorney-General's Department in December last year. Submissions for the process will close on February 28, 2010.

 A spokesperson for the Federal Attorney-General's Department told GameSpot AU last week that the results of the public consultation would be distributed to all of Australia's Attorneys-General to inform their decision whether Australia should have an R18+ classification for computer games. From there, all of the Attorneys-General will need to unanimously agree on its introduction before it can be passed as law in Australia.

Consultation Responses to be Published at Kotaku

Based on article from kotaku.com.au

Submissions for the R18+ national classification consultation close 28 February. To promote good thinking, we want to see what you've got to say. The guidelines request a 250-word comment at the end of each submission. Send us yours and we'll publish some of the best.

In case you're yet to state your case, here's how to do it.

The call for public consultation (AG.gov.au)
The Bond University Interactive Australia report (for helpful research insights)

When you have sent in your submission, send Kotaku an email with your 250-word comment from the end of your document. We'll choose some of the best we receive and publish them for everybody's benefit. We can only get better at dealing with the ill-informed by enhancing our own best arguments.

 

11th February   

Update: Conroy Down the U Tube...

Google refuses to censor Australia's wide range of banned YouTube videos
Link Here  full story: Magazine Censorship in Australia...Barely Legal winds up Australia'n nutters

YouTube logoGoogle says it will not voluntarily comply with the government's request that it censor YouTube videos in accordance with broad refused classification (RC) content rules.

As it prepares to introduce legislation within weeks forcing ISPs to block a blacklist of banned RC websites, the government says it is in talks with Google over blocking the same type of material from YouTube.

YouTube's rules already forbid certain videos that would be classified RC, such as sex, violence, bestiality and child pornography. But the RC classification extends further to more controversial content such as information on euthanasia, material about safer drug use and material on how to commit more minor crimes such as painting graffiti.

Google said all of these topics were featured in videos on YouTube and it refused to censor these voluntarily. It said exposing these topics to public debate was vital for democracy.

In an interview with the ABC's Hungry Beast, which aired last night, Conroy said applying ISP filters to high-traffic sites such as YouTube would slow down the internet, so we're currently in discussions with Google about ... how we can work this through . What we're saying is, well in Australia, these are our laws and we'd like you to apply our laws, Conroy said: Google at the moment filters an enormous amount of material on behalf of the Chinese government; they filter an enormous amount of material on behalf of the Thai government.

Google Australia's head of policy, Iarla Flynn, said the company had a bias in favour of freedom of expression in everything it did and Conroy's comparisons between how Australia and China deal with access to information were not helpful or relevant . YouTube has clear policies about what content is not allowed, for example hate speech and pornography, and we enforce these, but we can't give any assurances that we would voluntarily remove all Refused Classification content from YouTube .

The scope of RC is simply too broad and can raise genuine questions about restrictions on access to information. RC includes the grey realms of material instructing in any crime from [painting] graffiti to politically controversial crimes such as euthanasia, and exposing these topics to public debate is vital for democracy.

 

10th February   

Update: Operation Titstorm...

Anonymous fight back against Australia's ludicrous ban on young looking adults in porn
Link Here  full story: Magazine Censorship in Australia...Barely Legal winds up Australia'n nutters

Operation TitstormHacking attacks, dubbed Operation Titstorm , have targeted the websites of Senator Stephen Conroy and the Australian Parliament House, taking them both down with Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) for a period of time.

Anonymous' Operation Titstorm is protesting Australia's upcoming Internet censorship legislation, in particular the proposed banning of images of small-breasted females and female ejaculation, and also claims it will follow up with pornographic emails, spam faxes and prank calls to government offices.

Australia's laws on internet censorship are already among the most restrictive in the western world. Their government filters more internet content than any other Parliamentary Democracy. For some elements within the Government, including Telecommunications Minister Senator Stephen Conroy, this still is not enough. Late in January of 2009 he proposed legislature that would lead to mandatory ISP filtering for all of Australia. The stated goal is to prevent Australia from viewing 'illegal and unwanted content' on the Internet, Anonymous said in an email release to Australian media.

The ambiguity of the term 'unwanted content' is completely unacceptable. No government should have the right to refuse its citizens access to information solely because they perceive it to be 'unwanted'.

 

9th February   

Update: Ratty Australia...

I'm a celebrity TV show fined for cruel bush tucker
Link Here  full story: I'm a Celebrity...TV show done for cruel bush tucker

Celebrity Get Out Here DVD ITV has been fined 3,000 Australian dollars (£1,672) after contestants on its show, I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! , killed and ate a rat.

The fine, for animal cruelty, was issued by the RSPCA in Australia, where the show was filmed last year.

The animal was killed for a TV show, that's not appropriate, said RSPCA chief inspector David Oshannessy.

A spokesman for ITV said: ITV has apologised for the mistake which led to this incident. He continued: The production was unaware that killing a rat could be an offence, criminal or otherwise in New South Wales, and accepts that further inquiries should have been made.

 

3rd February   

Updated: Registered as Repressive...

South Australia bans anonymous political internet comments
Link Here

South Australia flagSouth Australian laws censoring anonymous political comment on the internet have sparked national and international outrage, with readers comparing the draconian laws to those in Nazi Germany and China.

More than 600 people have posted comments on the AdelaideNow website - most vehemently against the Rann Government's legislation which will force internet bloggers and anyone publishing a comment on next month's state election to supply their real name and postcode.

A poll reveals more than 90% of readers are against the laws, which carry a maximum fine of $5,000 for media organisations who do not hand over such information to the Electoral Commissioner.

In an extraordinary response to the story, readers have compared the law to those used in Nazi Germany, China, George Orwell's 1984 and North Korea. The state Liberal Party - which supported the law - also drew fire from readers.

Attorney-General Michael Atkinson said the law would not impinge on free speech and claimed that he expected The Advertiser and AdelaideNow to publish false stories about me, invent things about me to punish me .

In a press conference, Atkinson said the law was all about honesty . He conceded it would be difficult to police but the most egregious and outrageous breaches of the new laws would be identified.

The new law, which came into force on January 6, requires internet bloggers, and anyone making a comment on next month's state election, to publish their real name and postcode when commenting on the poll.

The law will affect anyone posting a comment on an election story on The Advertiser's AdelaideNow website, as well as other news sites such as The Punch, the ABC's The Drum and Fairfax newspapers' National Times site. It also appears to apply to election comment made on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

The law, which was pushed through last year as part of a raft of amendments to the Electoral Act and supported by the Liberal Party, also requires media organisations to keep a person's real name and full address on file for six months, and they face fines of $5000 if they do not hand over this information to the Electoral Commissioner.

Update: Anonymous Blogging Back On

3rd February 2010. Based on article from arstechnica.com

The cries of the outraged citizenry have had an effect. While defending the new rules as recently as yesterday, Michael Atkinson has suddenly backed off from them. He sent a statement to AdelaideNow, one remarkable for its candor.

From the feedback we've received through AdelaideNow, the blogging generation believes that the law supported by all MPs and all political parties is unduly restrictive. I have listened. I will immediately after the election move to repeal the law retrospectively... It may be humiliating for me, but that's politics in a democracy and I'll take my lumps.

South Australia's Premier, Mike Rann, knows his way around the tweet-o-sphere, and he backed up Atkinson's comments with his own Twitter commentary.

For many young people, and even the not so young, internet is their parliament of ideas and information, said one. Then, immediately after: AG has listened. So no debate will be stifled. No political censorship of blogs or on-line comments whether named or anon.

 

2nd February   

Update: A Lack of Transparency...

Australian censors refuse to explain how they censor adults depicted as under 18
Link Here  full story: Magazine Censorship in Australia...Barely Legal winds up Australia'n nutters

TwiggyLast week the Australian Classification Board (ACB) confirmed to Somebody Think Of The Children that a person's overall appearance is used by the Board to determine whether someone appears to look under the age of 18 in a film or publication.

However, the Director of the Australian Classification Board, Donald McDonald, refused to answer repeated questions from this blog about the specifics of breast size in deciding on a person's apparent age. Asked whether breast size was considered by the Board when determining age, McDonald said he had no further comment to make.

Colin Jacobs, Vice Chair of Electronic Frontiers Australia, said the Classification Board has a duty to be transparent with the public about what is being censored and why.

A process as subjective as determining the apparent age of a model is really a very problematic basis for a classification guideline, and this demonstrates it perfectly, he said. We don't blame the Board for enforcing the law, but we do blame them if they aren't forthcoming on how or why they're enforcing it in this case. The only reason censorship is compatible with democracy is that it's transparent.

 

1st February   

Update: Christian Games Baddies...

Australian Christian Lobby come out against the R18+ rating for games
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

ACL logoThe campaign to add an R18+ videogame rating category in Australia has gained an additional but predictable enemy, the Australian Christian Lobby.

The group's policy website features a section on the game ratings debate, in which the idea that an adult videogame rating category is needed Down Under is sharply rebuked:

The potential for violent and sexually explicit interactive games to cause harm has only increased in recent years as these games have become even more sophisticated, graphic and interactive. It is also naive to think that R18+ games could be restricted to adult users. If these games are allowed to go on sale in Australia they will inevitably find their way into the hands of younger players through older siblings or friends.

If any changes are to be made to the classification system it should only be to resolve to tighten up the MA15+ rating to ensure that games aren't wrongly getting through in this category.

The group encourages website visitors to attempt to stop the introduction of an R18+ category by writing a submission to the government in advance of the February 28th deadline for responses to the Discussion Paper.

 

30th January   

Updated: Little Tits at the Classification Board...

Australian censors ban small breasted models in their 20's
Link Here  full story: Magazine Censorship in Australia...Barely Legal winds up Australia'n nutters

TwiggyThe Australian Censor Board has started to ban depictions of small-breasted women in adult publications and films.

This is in response to a campaign led by Kids Free 2 B Kids and promoted by Barnaby Joyce and Guy Barnett in Senate Estimates late last year.

Mainstream companies such as Larry Flint's Hustler produce some of the publications that have been banned. These companies are regulated by the FBI to ensure that only adult performers are featured in their publications.

Fiona Patten of the Australian Sex Party said : We are starting to see depictions of women in their late 20s being banned because they have an A cup size , she said. It may be an unintended consequence of the Senator's actions but they are largely responsible for the sharp increase in breast size in Australian adult magazines of late .

Patten explained that Australian culture was being dumbed down in the sexual department and that political leaders were actively propagating an increasingly narrow window of acceptable sexual acts and cultures. She said that all new appointees to the Classification Board and the Classification Review Board should undergo a short course in the latest scientific developments around sexuality and some sort of biology course to bring them up to date with the broad range of acceptable adult sexuality and body types.

Update: Australian Censors Respond

30th January 2010. Based on article from somebodythinkofthechildren.com

Australian Film Classification BoardThe misleadingly named Australian Classification Board (ACB) has responded to accusations by The Australian Sex Party that material with depictions of women with small breasts has been banned. A spokesperson for the ACB told somebodythinkofthechildren.com that publications which contain offensive depictions or descriptions of persons who are, or appear to be , persons under the age of 18 (whether they are engaged in sexual activity or not) must be banned.

They said the Board classifies publications on a case by case basis, in accordance with the Guidelines for the Classification of Publications, the Code and the Classification Act and that the Publications Guidelines do not specify breast size.

 

27th January   

Update: Little Squirts at the Classification Board...

Australian censors ban female ejaculation
Link Here

Australian Sex PartyAustralian government censors are directing Customs officials to confiscate depictions of the female orgasm when it is accompanied with an ejaculation.

The Classification Board is also starting to classify films that feature female ejaculation as Refused Classification rather than X. Films that show both male and female ejaculation have routinely been given an X rating since 1983.

The new ruling follows a boom in the numbers of adult films featuring female ejaculation since the pioneering research of Professor Emeritus Beverly Whipple was published in her book The G Spot. Recent articles in the New Scientist and on Norman Swan's Health Report on ABC radio have raised public awareness of this largely hitherto unknown aspects of female orgasm.

The films are being banned (Refused Classification) on one of two grounds:

  1. That the depictions are a form of urination which is banned under the label of golden showers in the Classification Guidelines or
  2. Female ejaculation is an abhorrent depiction

Australian Sex Party convenor, Fiona Patten, said that the decision showed a lack of intellectual rigour and a lack of understanding of female sexuality on the part of Australia's censorship authorities. She said it appeared that some members on the Board did not believe the science around female orgasm.

Female ejaculation has now been described in scientific literature as being as real as male ejaculation and women's ejaculate is as different from urine, as men's is , she said. All women ejaculate at orgasm, in the same way that all men do. In some women, the amount is very small and not distinguishable from normal vaginal lubrication however some women can and do ejaculate large quantities of fluid and under great pressure.

Ms Patten said that some depictions of female orgasm could be faked and possibly showed an expulsion of water from the vagina, however there was nothing in the Guidelines to suggest banning depictions of douching – only urination.

These changes to what is now a Refused Classification depiction also affect the amount of material that will be black listed by Senator Conroy's proposed Internet filter. There are over one million sites featuring female ejaculation and for Australia to be banning depictions and discussion of this important issue, takes us back into the Victorian era where they didn't even believe that women could have orgasms , she said.

 

26th January   

Update: The Great Australian Internet Blackout...

Australian websites publicise the proposed censorship of the internet
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

Australian blackout campaign Hundreds of websites have joined an Australia Day internet blackout to protest against the Government's web censorship agenda, but even the internet industry body believes it will do little to lessen the Government's resolve.

The Greens, Democrats and ISP iiNet are among the organisations that pledged to fade their websites to black today and provide visitors with information about the Government's censorship plans. The blackout is expected to last until Friday.

The blackout was the brainchild of web activist Jeff Waugh and is being supported by online users' lobby group Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA).

Some of the websites taking part in the blackout are listed on internetblackout.com.au. The list includes a diverse selection of mostly smaller websites, ranging from personal web pages to media sites such as newmatilda.com and overclockers.com.au.

But Peter Coroneos, chief executive of the Internet Industry Association, said it would take 200,000 people protesting in the streets in every major capital city for the Government to pay attention. Coroneos last week met senior bureaucrats from the Department of Broadband, who stressed to him that the Government was pushing ahead with plans to implement its internet filter legislation in the autumn session of Parliament.

I think the Government's fairly intent on their course of action to legislate filtering - I think that's almost beyond doubt, he said.

 

24th January   

Off to a T...

T-Shirts wind up Australian women's groups
Link Here

Roger David T-shirt T-shirt slogans supposedly condoning rape and featuring semi-naked and gagged women have 'outraged' Australian nutters.

An Australian website, run out of Los Angeles, allows designers to sell T-shirts with slogans such as It's not rape if you yell surprise , Rape, murder, arson … I like rape , and I want rape .

Country Life Roxy Music Menswear company Roger David has also been embroiled in the furore through two of its T-shirt labels. One T-shirt, by Los Angeles-based company Blood Is the New Black, shows a woman who appears gagged and roughed up. The other, by US brand Chaser LA, has two semi-naked women with a strip across their eyes. The image used by Chaser LA was largely copied from the 1974 Country Life album cover by British rock band Roxy Music.

The graphic T-shirts have angered women's groups, while a Facebook group called Roger David: NOT ok to promote violence against women! has more than 800 members.

Women's advocate and co-founder of the anti-exploitation group Collective Shout, Melinda Tankard Reist, says the T-shirts must be outlawed: [They are] mocking the serious crime of rape, she said. I don't think there has been any consideration of the message it sends sexual assault survivors.

They're taking messages you would normally find in pornography or the sex industry and mainstreaming them in what was once considered conservative menswear stores.  Is this how Roger David likes its women? Is this how it thinks women should be portrayed?

Chrystina Woody, a spokeswoman for Blood Is the New Black, suggested the T-shirts, as art, would spark debate. Art is meant to inspire and educate, and the meaning and interpretation is left in the hands of the viewer, she said via email.

 

23rd January   

Music Video Prude...

Nutter Australian MP pushes for censored music videos
Link Here

Amanda RishworthAustralian Labor MP Amanda Rishworth is urging music videos portraying women as 'sex objects' be censored and should be individually rated or banned from children's viewing hours.

She warned that without tough intervention the nation could be left with a generation of women with low self-esteem and body-image issues.

The call received support from the professor of Public Ethics at Charles Sturt University, Clive Hamilton, who described the imagery in some music videos as almost pornographic.

Ms Rishworth, a psychologist, will introduce a private member's motion in Federal Parliament calling for further debate on the objectification of girls in mainstream media: There is no silver bullet - the industry does need to consider content and what ratings they are giving it. She said a rating of PG or M could give parents a guide to what was appropriate for their children.

This is not about being a prude ...BUT... about providing good role models, Ms Rishworth said. It's more than just sex, it's about the role women play in them. She said scantily clothed women in the clips were gyrating around men and giving suggestive looks . Many just looked like props for men, she said.

Prof Hamilton said there was nothing wrong with some censorship to protect the innocence of young girls: It's been clear for some years that the wall between music videos and pornography is becoming thinner.

A Senate report on sexualisation of children in the contemporary media made several recommendations in 2008, including urging broadcasters to review their classification of music videos with regard to sexual imagery.

 

22nd January   

Update: Conroy's a Pain...

Internet censorship likely to result in painful deaths
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

Peaceful Pill Handbook Revised International Thousands of elderly Australians who want the basic human right to have control over how they will die will suffer if the Rudd Government's proposed internet filtering law is passed later this year, says leading euthanasia advocate Dr Philip Nitschke.

Dr Nitschke said Communication Minister Stephen Conroy's controversial mandatory ISP filtering plan supposedly aimed at protecting Australians from online material such as child pornography and anorexia guides would also prevent elderly people, including those suffering from terminal illnesses, from locating vital information on painless end-of-life solutions.

Nitschke's online version of his banned book on painless suicide methods is available through his website, Exit International. The Peaceful Pill eHandbook discusses the exit bag and lethal drug options.

A spokesperson for Senator Conroy said Exit International would not be blocked if the ISP filter goes ahead. However, any material on the site providing step-by-step instruction on how to commit suicide would be banned by the National Classification Board.

 

20th January   

Chilling Effects...

Google removes links to satirical wiki
Link Here

Encyclopedia Dramatica Google has taken down links to a website that supposedly promotes racist views of indigenous Australians.

Aboriginal man Steve Hodder-Watt recently discovered the US-based site by searching Aboriginal and Encyclopedia in the search engine.

He tried to modify the entry on Encyclopedia Dramatica, a satirical and extremely racist version of Wikipedia, but was blocked from doing so.

Hodder-Watt then undertook legal action, that resulted in Google acknowledging its legal responsibility to remove the offensive site.

His lawyer, George Newhouse, said the site was one of the most offensive sorts of racial vilification you could possibly find . It portrays indigenous Australians in the most unsavoury light possible, and you wouldn't want a child stumbling across it, he told ABC Radio.

Newhouse said Google agreed to take the link down after he filed an official complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission. Newhouse believes the site would be filtered under the Federal Government's mandatory filter: Sites that promote racial vilification would actually fall within that description and therefore would be filtered.

 

20th January   

Offsite: Losing the Consultation Game...

Michael Atkinson resigned to consultation favouring R18+
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

R18+ bannedAustralians are right now being asked to voice their opinion on whether an R18+ rating for video games should be introduced, with the Australian Federal Attorney General seeking public submissions into the issue. But while the consultation process won't conclude until February 28, 2010, one high-profile figure in the games debate has already decided that the majority of respondents will be in favour of an R18+: vocal anti-R18+ campaigner Michael Atkinson.

He said: I don't think the discussion paper presents a fair and balanced view of the issue without pictures of the games that would be rated R18+, Atkinson said. I think the majority of the population are unfamiliar with these games and without images, they won't be able to imagine them in their mind's eye. They'll have no idea how violent or sexually depraved they are, and what kind of torture, drug use, and blood spatter they include.

I also believe that very few people outside the gaming community will have a say in this public consultation, which will mean an overwhelming response in support of R18+ .

...Read full article

 

14th January   

Offsite: Serious about Sex...

Australian Sex Party has a word about the parliamentary christian fellowship
Link Here  full story: Australia Sex Party...Adult trade association organises a politcal party

Australian Sex PartyMany dismissed them as a passing fad. But thanks to a wide policy platform that includes gay rights and a charismatic leader, The Australian Sex Party has shown they are a political force to be reckoned with, writes Garrett Bithell.

When was the last time we heard a politician talk positively about sex, without giggling like a little schoolboy from the front bench? When was the last time we heard a politician talk seriously and empathetically about human rights, without that dialogue being conflated by religious dogma?

In November of 2008, The Australian Sex Party was formed as a response to the increasing wowserism dominating our political landscape, and the unprecedented power of the religious right. Armed with pimped-up vans, a feisty and charismatic leader, and We're Serious About Sex as their slogan, the party launched at Melbourne Sexpo.

 

13th January   

Segregated from Reason...

South Australia finds easy offence in 18 rated Hollywood DVD covers
Link Here

South Australia flagThe South Australian government is now enforcing a law that requires all R-rated films for sale or hire to be segregated from all other movies of a lower rating. Not only that, but advertising R-rated films will also be illegal.

Essentially, this law is going to affect two types of businesses: places that sell or hire DVDs and Blu-ray films (everywhere from Target to Blockbuster), and cinemas.

The first change in the law, which says that you can't display R-rated movies alongside movies of other ratings, requires a dedicated area for all R-rated content, which needs to be clearly marked with this statement (in font at least 15mm high):

R 18+ FILMS AREA—THE PUBLIC ARE WARNED THAT MATERIAL DISPLAYED IN THIS AREA MAY CAUSE OFFENCE.

In addition to that, the item's surface area (such as a DVD cover) must not be more than 300 square centimetres (which is bigger than a DVD cover).

The other alternative given is to remove any covers or displays, other than the name of the movie (in font no larger than 1cm high) and the rating. No description, no funny quotes from Margaret Pomeranz, nothing.

The second part of the new laws restricts the ability to advertise R18+ rated films. Businesses (including cinemas) can no longer show trailers for R-rated films or display promotional material such as posters, pamphlets or other printed material. Although this probably won't be too big a problem (very few theatrical releases have been classified R18+ in recent years – most make it as MA15+) for most businesses.

 

11th January   

Update: No Merit...

Australian report recommends removing artistic merit defence from child pornography laws
Link Here  full story: Art Censorship in Australia...Getting wound up by children in art

Australian Government logoAustralian painters and photographers will no longer be able to rely on a defence of artistic merit defence under an overhaul of child pornography laws.

Nearly two years after police raided Melbourne artist Bill Henson's contentious exhibition, the Government will legislate to force artists to account for their works.

A working party set up by the Government in the wake of the May, 2008, controversy over Henson's child exhibits has recommended the artistic-merit defence be struck out.

The group, comprising Department of Public Prosecutions, police and Legal Aid representatives, was instructed to draw a clear line between pornography and art.

The Sunday Telegraph can reveal that New South Wales Attorney-General John Hatzistergos strongly supports the move, and the Government is expected to legislate when parliament resumes next month.

Henson triggered one of the most intense debates in the art world when he featured an image of a naked 12-year-old girl on the invitation to an exhibition of his work at Sydney's Roslyn Oxley Gallery. Police shut down the exhibition and seized 32 of Henson's pictures, but Director of Public Prosecutions Nicholas Cowdery, QC, declined to prosecute Henson.

Hatzistergos said the proposed laws would cover the production, distribution and possession of child pornography: The fact that it is art cannot be used as a defence. The report recommends that once such material has been found to be unlawfully pornographic, whether or not it is intended to be art is irrelevant, he said.

The working party, headed by District Court judge Peter Berman, also examined the use of photographs depicting nudity in a news context. Hatzistergos said the new laws would ensure the rights of photographers to publish pictures - such as the iconic Vietnam war photograph of a nine-year-old girl running naked on a street after being burned by napalm - would not be infringed.

The Government will seek feedback from victims' groups, the artistic community and media before putting the recommendations to Cabinet.

The working party has also recommended the law be changed so jury members, prosecutors and court staff are able to view only a sample of images during the trial process.

 

8th January   

Victorian Ku Klux Klan...

Australians wound up by Indian newspaper cartoon
Link Here

Klu Klux Klan cartoonAustralia has condemned as deeply offensive an Indian newspaper cartoon depicting the police as members of the racist Ku Klux Klan.

The cartoon in the Delhi Mail Today newspaper portrayed a person in a white Ku Klux Klan hood and wearing a Victoria state police badge and the words: We are yet to ascertain the nature of the crime.

It follows the murder of Indian Nitin Garg, 21, in Melbourne and a string of other attacks on South Asians.

Australian officials say the attacks have not been racist, but random acts by opportunistic criminals.

The Victoria state minister of police, Bob Cameron, condemned the cartoon: Victoria Police is a very tolerant organisation and Victoria is a very tolerant state and to suggest that Victoria Police is racist is just plain wrong .

Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard said she had not seen the cartoon but she said: Any suggestion of the kind is deeply offensive and I would condemn the making of such comment. She said police in Victoria's capital Melbourne, where Garg was murdered, had increased patrols in areas where violent attacks have taken place.

The state's police union said the drawing was based on nothing but a slow news day in Delhi .

 

4th January   

Update: Ban This Game...

Campaigning against Australian internet censorship
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

Ban this Game Independent developer Conor O'Kane has decided to use his powers of coding to help fight the government's current regime of video game censorship and planned internet filtering.

Dubned Ban This Game , it's a free download for both Windows and Macs, and lets you play out your fantasies of controlling a draconian censorship regime by banning games and websites.

 

4th January   

Update: Internet Filter Slowdown...

Internet censorship unlikely to be implemented before Australian election
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

Inquisitr logoIn one of its most cynical moves yet, the Australian Government will delay the implementation of Internet censorship until after the next Australian Election.

In a letter to an opponent of internet censorship, Minister for Censorship, Stephen Conroy, wrote that the Government would introduce legislative amendments into Parliament to require all ISPs, starting twelve months from the passage of the legislation, to filter RC material hosted on overseas servers.

The Australian Parliament next sits on February 2, 2010. Even if the legislation were presented to the House of Representatives on February 2 (and there is no indication at this stage that it will be,) the legislation must pass the Senate (which isn't assured) and eventually return for a third reading in the House of Representatives before it passes. Given the contentious nature of the legislation, it would be fair to presume that there will be proposed amendments and/or strong opposition in the Senate for the bill. Even if it passes the Senate quickly, by the time it is passed and gains royal assent, at the very earliest the bill would be law in late February 2010, for implementation in late February 2011.

The next Australian election must be held no later than the April 16, 2011. Under the unlikely scenario that the bill passes in February 2010, internet censorship would come into law in Australia in February 2011, which even if the election hadn't been formally called, would none the less fall a week or two before the formal campaign (and the unofficial campaign would be in full swing.)

There's no way in hell that Rudd will risk implementing internet censorship in the middle of an election campaign, because it risks distracting from the Government message. It could easily become a wedge point against the Government, particularly when voters start asking why their internet connections have magically become slower all of a sudden.

More likely is that Senator Conroy is looking for the legislation to pass before Winter recess, with implementation a couple of months clear of the election.

It's the height of cynicism that the Australian Government, seeking to implement draconian internet censorship in Australia, would be so afraid of what the reaction might be they'd delay it until after the next election. Weasels of the first degree.

 

2nd January   

Update: Objectionable Policing...

AbbyWinters.com boss to be prosecuted for explicit DVDs
Link Here  full story: AbbyWinters.com...Website raided by police

Abby Winters logoGarion Hall, the boss of AbbyWinters.com, has been charged with 54 counts of producing and possessing supposedly  objectionable films.

Hall also was charged on three under age porn counts after police in Victoria raided his business, G Media, in June and seized footage of allegedly illegal sex acts. Computer records and DVDs were among items seized.

The charges relate to sexually explicit DVDs allegedly made by his multimillion-dollar company, G Media.

Previously 35 DVDs have been submitted to the Australian film censors who reported that they would be classified X18+ (for explicit sex, legal to supply in 2 Australian territories but not Victoria)

Two of Hall's former models who appear on the AbbyWinters website as Blaire and Melita accused G Media of exploiting them and other nude models by not warning them it was illegal to profit from making objectionable films in Victoria, according to Australia's Herald Sun. The women claim G Media used large cash incentives to lure naive women into performing sex acts on camera.

Hall is due to appear in Melbourne Magistrates' Court on Jan. 27 to face 57 charges.

AbbyWinters.com is a paysite that specializes in lesbian and solo erotica of amateur female nude models. The site has about 30,000 subscribers.

Hall, in June, said that the police raids were instigated by a tabloid journalist from the Herald Sun.

 

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