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Australian Governments and dilemmas in filtering the Internet: juggling freedoms against potential for harm

August 25, 2014 Comments off

Australian Governments and dilemmas in filtering the Internet: juggling freedoms against potential for harm
Source: Parliamentary Library of Australia

Executive summary
• The Internet is a revolutionary source of information and its dissemination; and a medium for collaboration and interaction between individuals without regard for geographic location.
• Since its inception, however, concerns have been raised about the potential for unsavoury characters to use the Internet as a vehicle for distributing pornography and material of a violent nature to young or otherwise vulnerable individuals.
• Governments across the world have attempted to deal with such activities by various means and to varying degrees. These have included imposing mandatory filtering at an Internet Service Provider (ISP) level and optional filtering at the computer level.
• In Australia there has been considerable debate about what degree of filtering (if any) should be mandated.
• The Howard Government favoured an approach which emphasised self-regulation by ISPs combined with a legislative component and education and freedom for families to choose between either computer or ISP filtering based on a list of unacceptable content.
• The Rudd and Gillard Governments preferred the option of a mandatory ISP level filter, although this too was to be based on a ‘blacklist’ of prohibited content.
• Both options have been criticised as being expensive and inefficient. In addition, it has been argued that the Rudd/Gillard option would have had a detrimental impact on Internet speeds and that it would set a precedent for future governments to widen filtering to other forms of expression.
• The Howard Government’s programs were largely discarded by Labor after it was elected in 2007. However, Labor’s own filtering option was abandoned prior to its defeat in the 2013 election.
• In conjunction with their filtering options, both Coalition and Labor Governments have supported education and information campaigns to assist people, particularly children, to deal with online predators and both have introduced successful programs.
• The current Coalition Government’s policy on Internet filtering appears to favour light-handed legislation combined with education and information programs. This paper examines the iterations of internet filtering policies from the 1990s to 2014 and discusses some of their ideological underpinnings.

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AU — Access to and retention of internet ‘metadata’

August 21, 2014 Comments off

Access to and retention of internet ‘metadata’
Source: Parliamentary Library of Australia

On 5 August 2014, the Government announced its intention to update Australia’s telecommunication interception laws. This is part of broader efforts to enhance powers available to security agencies ‘to combat home-grown terrorism and Australians who participate in terrorist activities overseas’. This includes developing a mandatory ‘metadata’ retention system.

Whilst having a period of mandatory metadata retention would be new, the collection of metadata by telecommunications companies and government access to it is not new and is governed by the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 (TIA). Whilst the need for such a scheme was linked to combating terrorism, it is worth noting that Australian and European experience suggests that the most common law enforcement use of metadata will be in non-terrorism criminal cases.

AU — Crime and law enforcement: a quick guide to key Internet links

August 19, 2014 Comments off

Crime and law enforcement: a quick guide to key Internet links
Source: Parliamentary Library of Australia

This Quick Guide provides key Internet links to websites with information on crime and law enforcement arrangements and issues. Australian Government Attorney-General’s Department —the lead Commonwealth agency for criminal law, law enforcement policy, crime prevention and anti-corruption. Key pages include:
– crime and corruption—overview and links to more specific information including legislation and policy on organised crime, money laundering, people smuggling, human trafficking, cybercrime, foreign bribery, anti-corruption, illicit drugs and federal offenders
– crime prevention—information on the government’s crime prevention initiatives, including grants programs and
– international crime cooperation arrangements—information on extradition, mutual assistance and international transfer of prisoners processes and arrangements with other countries.

AU — National security: a quick guide to key Internet links

August 15, 2014 Comments off

National security: a quick guide to key Internet links
Source: Parliamentary Library of Australia

This Quick Guide provides key Internet links to websites with information on national security arrangements and issues. Australian Government agencies and websites provides information on what governments are doing to protect Australia’s national security, outlines relevant legislation and the roles of federal and state and territory agencies in countering terrorism, and provides links to key Australian Government publications relating to national security. It also has a list of organisations identified as terrorist organisations under the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) and associated regulations, with links to statements of reasons and the Australian Government’s listing protocol.

The Islamic Caliphate and Australia

August 15, 2014 Comments off

The Islamic Caliphate and Australia
Source: Parliamentary Library of Australia

In June 2014, the Islamic State (IS) declared an Islamic Caliphate spanning the area from Syria’s Aleppo governorate in the west, to Iraq’s province of Diyala in the east. The area under IS control now covers up to one third of Iraq, including the city of Mosul, which previously had a strong Christian community, but who have now mostly been forced to flee. The IS was formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS), and previously operated as a front organisation for Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) until Al-Qaeda broke ties with the group early this year. Although the group has been proscribed by Australia since 2005, it was only listed under the name Islamic State on 12 July 2014. Iraq’s national army and police force put up little resistance to the insurgents, and are reported to have abandoned their weapons and fled. However, Iraqi-Kurdistan in the far north-east tip of the country remains intact, and its military, the peshmerger, have secured Kirkuk, an oil rich city that the Kurds have previously laid claim to, but which is not recognised as part of Iraqi-Kurdistan.

Who pays the piper? Rules for lobbying governments in Australia, Canada, UK and USA

August 5, 2014 Comments off

Who pays the piper? Rules for lobbying governments in Australia, Canada, UK and USA
Source: Parliamentary Library of Australia

This publication surveys lobbying codes of conduct and registers introduced by Australian federal and state governments and some overseas governments. Although lobbying is a legitimate practice and part of the democratic process, the 2014 hearings conducted by the New South Wales (NSW) Independent Commission Against Corruption have exposed weaknesses in lobbying rules. Initially Australian governments introduced very similar minimalist codes and registers. Two states, NSW and Queensland, have recently introduced stronger regimes but Australian codes are, in general, far weaker than the strong statutory regimes operating in Canada and the United States.

AU — The arts and culture: a quick guide to key internet links

July 22, 2014 Comments off

The arts and culture: a quick guide to key internet links
Source: Parliamentary Library of Australia

This Quick Guide provides links to:

  • Australian Government organisations responsible for the arts and culture
  • state and territory government websites
  • regional arts websites
  • non-government organisations websites and
  • international organisations.

It also provides links to a range of organisations by art form:

  • ballet and dance
  • film
  • libraries
  • literature
  • museums and galleries
  • music and opera
  • performing arts education
  • theatre and
  • visual arts.
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