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Updated: A censorship mystery...

The Australian Censorship Board has banned the video game Disco Elysium: The Final Cut


Link Here29th March 2021
Full story: Games Censorship in Australia...Censorship rules for games
Disco Elysium: The Final Cut is the latest video game in a long line of censorship casualties in Australia.

The game launches on March 30th for PlayStation and Stadia owners but the Australian government has banned it from sale in the country.

The Australian Censorship Board hasn't specified exactly why Disco Elysium's been banned and developer ZA/UM has yet to publicly respond on this. However the core gameplay mechanics prominently include drugs and alcohol and which is a bit of a no-no for the country's censors.

 

Update: Criticising Australia's archaic games censorship

29th March 2021. Thanks to Daniel. See article from theguardian.com

The banning of video game Disco Elysium from sale in Australia has renewed calls for the Australian government to overhaul the classification system to move away from the moral panic associated with video games.

The chief executive of the Interactive Games & Entertainment Association, Ron Curry, told Guardian Australia:

Games are treated differently and the classification guidelines do not hide it. In spite of the government's own research to the contrary, when an R18+ classification was introduced for games they still insisted on making interactivity a determinant in classifying games, unlike film and publications.

There are also other restrictions levelled at games around violence, sex, drug use and incentives that aren't applied to film.

The sad reality is that the national classification system applies a stricter set of rules for video games than it does for pretty much every other kind of content, reflecting the early 1990s era in which those rules were written, when video games were associated with a moral panic and certainly not treated as the mainstream medium and artistic discipline that they are.

The Australian Lawyers Alliance said in a submission to a public consultation on the government's upcoming internet censorship bill named the Online Safety Bill:

The online classification system needed review, which should be done before the online safety bill passes. This bill should not be reliant on such an outdated classification system. The ALA therefore submits that this legislation should not proceed until such a review into the [classification scheme], incorporating community consultation, has been undertaken.

 

 

Chairman of Australia...

Three artworks taken down in Canberra gallery due to Chinese complaints


Link Here27th March 2021
Full story: China International Censors...China pressures other countries into censorship
A Canberra art gallery has removed three artworks relating to Chinese leaders after receiving complaints and hundreds of angry messages in what appears to be an attack coordinated by China.

The Ambush Gallery at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra removed three pieces -- including one depicting Communist China's founding leader Mao Zedong as Batman and another depicting him as Winnie the Pooh.

The works were part of a 25-piece exhibition exploring the pressures people are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic. The whole show is a comment on the abuse of power, artist Luke Cornish said.

In response to criticism of supposed racism, Cornish previously apologised for the work depicting Chairman Mao as Batman, which he said was an attempt to mock conspiracy theories around coronavirus origins. He said the other two works were taking the piss out of an authoritarian regime.

 

 

Updated: Dangerous legislation...

A diverse group of organisations criticise Australia's hastily drafted and wide ranging internet censorship bill


Link Here19th March 2021
Full story: Internet Censorship in Australia...Wide ranging state internet censorship
A number of legal, civil and digital rights, tech companies and adult organisations have raised significant concerns with Australia's proposed internet censorship legislation, and its potential to impact those working in adult industries, to lead to online censorship, and the vast powers it hands to a handful of individuals.

Despite this, the legislation was introduced to Parliament just 10 days after the government received nearly 400 submissions on the draft bill, and the senate committee is expected to deliver its report nine days after submissions closed. Stakeholders were also given only three working days to make a submission to the inquiry.

In a submission to the inquiry, Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) president Graham Droppert said the government should not proceed with the legislation because it invests excessive discretionary power in the eSafety Commissioner and also the Minister with respect to the consideration of community expectations and values in relation to online content. Droppert said:

The ALA considers that the bill does not strike the appropriate balance between protection against abhorrent material and due process for determining whether content comes within that classification.

Digital Rights Watch has been leading the charge against the legislationn. Digital Rights Watch programme director Lucie Krahulcova said:

The powers to be handed to the eSafety Commissioner, which was established in 2015 to focus on keeping children safe online, is a continuation of its broadly expanding remit, and should be cause for concern.

The new powers in the bill are discretionary and open-ended, giving all the power and none of the accountability to the eSafety Office. They are not liable for any damage their decisions may cause and not required to report thoroughly on how and why they make removal decisions. This is a dramatic departure from democratic standards globally.

Jarryd Bartle is a lecturer in criminal law and adult industry consultant, and is policy and campaigns advisor at the Eros Association. He said:

The bill as drafted is blatant censorship, with the eSafety commissioner empowered to strip porn, kink and sexually explicit art from the internet following a complaint, with nothing in the scheme capable of distinguishing moral panic from genuine harm.

Twitter and live streaming service Twitch have joined the mounting list of service providers, researchers, and civil liberties groups that take issue with Australia's pending Online Safety Bill.

Of concern to both Twitter and Twitch is the absence of due regard to different types of business models and content types, specifically around the power given to the relevant minister to determine basic online safety expectations for social media services, relevant electronic services, and designated internet services. Twitter said:

In order to continue to foster digital growth and innovation in the Australian economy, and to ensure reasonable and fair competition, it is critically important to avoid placing requirements across the digital ecosystem that only large, mature companies can reasonably comply with,

Likewise, Twitch believes it is important to consider a sufficiently flexible approach that gives due regard to different types of business models and content types.

Update: Fast tracked

19th March 2021. See article from ia.acs.org.au

The Online Safety Bill 2021 will likely get an easy ride into law after a senate environment and communications committee gave it the nod of approval last week.

Under the government's proposed laws, the eSafety Commissioner will be given expanded censorship powers to direct social media platforms and other internet services to take down material and remove links to content it deems offensive or abusive.

 

 

Believers in extreme state control...

Victorian MPs recommend a state ban on Nazi insignia


Link Here14th March 2021

Displaying the Nazi swastika would be a criminal offence in Victoria if the government implements a recommendation of a cross-party parliamentary inquiry into anti-vilification laws.

After a year-long investigation the final report from the legal and social issues committee urges the government to legislate tougher laws against hate speech and racist insignia.

Premier Daniel Andrews said that the government was open to criminalising Nazi symbols. It would be the first jurisdiction in Australia to impose such a ban.

The committee said it believed limitations on freedom of speech were justified when it impinged on the human rights of others, citing recent events, including the storming of the US Capitol by far-right groups and social media giants banning former US president Donald Trump's accounts.


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