Tuesday, March 21 2006
The Internet Industry Association has questioned the rationale for the
fundamental change to Australia's internet content regulatory scheme
proposed by the ALP today.
"We are not convinced that Australian families will benefit from
fundamentally changing a scheme which is internationally recognised as
the most advanced of its kind in the world", said IIA chief executive
Mr Coroneos added: "Under the government-backed Internet Content Code
scheme which applies in Australia, ISPs are already required to provide
their customers with access to a filter or filtered feed. Furthermore,
these filters must pass rigorous independent testing to ensure they not
only catch the kind of content referred to the in the Opposition's
proposal, but also thousands of other sites which are likely to cause
offence to adults and potential disturbance to children. On top of all
this, the scheme prohibits ISPs from profiting from the provision of
these filters - they must be offered on a cost recovery basis, and some
ISPs even offer them for free."
Under Australia's Broadcasting Services Act, industry Codes of Practice
are developed and enforced. The Codes apply to all ISPs in Australia who
are required to adhere to the scheme, and substantial penalties exist
for non-compliance. These penalties are enforceable in the Federal Court.
Mr Coroneos added: "It is important to recognise that the UK 'Cleanfeed'
scheme (upon which the Labor proposals are modelled) was a
market-drivien initiative which arose because the UK lacked the strong
legislative protection available to Australians. We can't understand why
we'd adopt measures that will impose significant extra costs on users,
degrade network performance and deliver no real upside for Australian
families beyond that currently available."
"For families and those concerned with child safety the message is
simple," Mr Coroneos concluded. "Follow the advice given by your ISP and
take advantage of the tools and services they provide to shield your
children from unsuitable sites."
More information about the IIA Codes and family friendly filters is
available at www.iia.net.au/guideuser.html. For details of Australia's
co-regulatory scheme see www.acma.gov.au. For general information about
protecting children online, see www.netalert.net.au.
For further information please contact:
Internet Industry Association
phone (02) 6232 6900
- "I recently blogged about CRIA's failure to renew keepmusiccoming.com, which it used as part of its 'educational' campaign to convince users to stop downloading. A blog reader has noted that the situation has gone from bad to worse as the site is now owned by a Russian download service offering up thousands of MP3 files it says are legal for nine cents each. Bear in mind, there are thousands of CDs sitting in Canadian stores today encouraging people to visit keepmusiccoming.com."
Read more here.
Is this censorship? Should the Australian government be allowed to ask Melbourne IT to shut down the site?
Read EFF's open letter to three New Jersey congressmen.
What dangers are posed by internet gambling? Should internet gambling be banned? How can we regulate internet gambling?
Read more here.
Read more here.
Read more here.
What might the implications of this proposed law? Should other nations consider implementing a similar law? Why? Why not?
"It seems to me that AOL is setting a horrible precedent here," he said. "The whole ideal of Net neutrality gets wiped away, and we are left with an Internet of haves and have-nots."
Read more here.
information, amid increasing concerns over privacy theft on the Internet. The Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs has proclaimed a new law, under which one could serve up to three years in prison or face a maximum 10 million won fine for unauthorized use of personal information.
Read more here.
Read more at the Creative Commons blog.
Read a summary of the case here. The judgment is also available to read.
Read more here.
Do you think this will be an effective way to regulate content on the internet?
Read more here.
Do you think the Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group will be effective in reducing spam?
Most of the photos had been published before. Salon.com said it was the first news organization to publish the full file of photos collected by the Army's Criminal Investigation Command, which previously released some in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by the American Civil Liberties Union.
Read more here. To see the pictures, click here.
Should these images be available on the internet? What policy considerations underpin your opinion on this issue?
Authorities have identified seven child victims, including an infant whose molestation in April by a suburban Chicago man was transmitted live via an internet chat room to a co-conspirator who used the screen name "BigtDaddy619".
Four of those charged allegedly molested the children, making the resulting images available in the chat room called "Kiddypics & Kiddyvids," that facilitated trading of thousands of images and videos, the statement said.
Read the full story here. See one of the indictments here.
"if a person knowingly permits another to communicate information which is defamatory, when there would be an opportunity to prevent the publication, there would seem to be no reason in principle why liability should not accrue."
The case is Bunt v. Tilley  EWHC 407 (QB) (10 March 2006).
- Google is expanding its role in the publishing world from a search engine for books to a distributor making entire books available to read online.
The company launched a new program Friday that allows traditional book publishers in the United States and Britain to sell and set the price for access to full copies of their books, Google spokeswoman Megan Lamb said Monday. Consumers who purchase the access cannot save copies of the books or individual pages to their computers and can view them only through a Web browser.
"We are collaborating with publishers -- in response to demand from them -- to develop a suite of online tools that will enable publishers to experiment with new and innovative ways to generate more book revenue,'' Lamb said in an e-mail.
The new program is open only to U.S. and U.K. publishers at this point.
Several points remained unclear: whether Google would get a cut of the price paid for access to a book; whether customers who purchase access to books see advertising while they read the books; and whether independent authors will also one day sell full access to their books through the service.
Read the full article here.
- The internet has been a hotbed of innovation because it’s "dumb". The designers didn’t presuppose how the internet would be used and that has made it extremely flexible. But what we are running into now are scaling and security problems, and some people are asking: if we were building the internet from scratch, what would be the ideal clean-slate design?
Do you think the internet should be redesigned from scratch? What do you think the internet would look like? Do you think that such a redesign could ever realistically happen?
The opening two paragraphs of the opinion summarise the issue:
- The term "Lolita" conjures up images ranging from the literary depiction of the adolescent seduced by her stepfather in Vladimir Nabokov’s novel to erotic displays of young girls and child pornography. This case requires us to consider probable cause to search a computer for child pornography in the
context of an Internet website, known as "Lolitagurls.com," that admittedly displayed child pornography.
Micah Gourde appeals from the district court’s denial of his motion to suppress more than 100 images of child pornography seized from his home computer. Gourde claims that the affidavit in support of the search lacked sufficient indicia of probable cause because it contained no evidence that Gourde actually downloaded or possessed child pornography. We disagree. Based on the totality of the circumstances, the magistrate judge who issued the warrant made a "practical, common-sense decision" that there was a "fair probability" that child pornography would be found on Gourde’s computer. Illinois v. Gates, 462 U.S. 213, 238 (1983). The Fourth Amendment requires no more.
Opponents of the Act contend that not only is it too broad and would therefore stifle free speech, but that advances in technology have made it obsolete. SiliconValley.com summarises the issues plaguing the Act.
Is the Act obsolete? Does the Act unduly infringe upon free speech? How can we protect children from offensive content that is available online?
Read more here (free subscription required). See also CNN.com.
Read the full report here.
- Hong Kong authorities said that they would set up a register of data-collection companies after details of 20,000 people who complained about the police were leaked on to the Internet. Roderick Woo, Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, said the companies would have to provide information on what kind of data they collect and why, and who will access to it. Woo said authorities were investigating the leaked data, including names, addresses and criminal records, which apparently came from the Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC). The IPCC had denied any link with the website that carried the information but local media quoted unnamed police source saying the council outsourced data processing. Read more here.
Should Australia implement a similar register of data collection companies?
appropriate role for governments and public institutions in providing Internet connectivity. He argues that government cannot adopt a hands-off approach, though it must recognize that its role differs in the urban and rural markets with the urban focus on the competitive environment, while the rural mandate concentrated on establishing connectivity.
Read Michael Geist's comments here.
Do you agree that "Given the Web's importance, government cannot adopt a hands-off approach, though it must recognize that its role differs in the urban and rural markets"?
Read the full story here.
Does this tell us anything about jurisdictional difficulties on the internet?
You can read the decision here.
- Australia's digital content industry was being outpaced by other countries according to a report released by Department of Communication Information Technology and the Arts. Read more here.
- The National Australia Bank was able to quickly shut down three sites in China that launched a phishing attack on it. Read the article here.
- A feature story on corporate blogging, including why you would and why you wouldn't have a corporate blog. See also the more sceptical view of David Holmes, the managing director of online media agency OneDigital.
- A Special Report on Open Source Software (not available online).
The website referred to is a blog titled Patriot Alliance Downunder. You can view the website at http://avoiceofdissent.blogspot.com/.
Does this website breach Australian state and/or federal law? Should a website with this sort of content be allowed to remain online? What does the fact that this website is still online tell you about internet content regulation in Australia?
- "Internet suicide pacts have occurred since at least the late 1990s and have been reported everywhere from Guam to the Netherlands. But in Japan, where the suicide rate is among the industrialized world's highest, officials are worried about a recent spate of such deaths."
Read the full article here.
Is it possible to stop the internet being used in this way?
- EFF is warning the public about a so-called anonymous email service located at Advicebox.com. Advicebox.com's tagline is "Anonymous email made easy" but this service does not provide real anonymity -- it's a trap for the unwary and should not be used by battered spouses, whistleblowers and others who need real protection. Read more here.
Who do you think will win? Can you think of any legal concerns users may have with an online office-productivity suite?
- "Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia, currently serves up the following: Five billion pages a month. More than 120 languages. In excess of one million English-language articles. And a single nagging epistemological question: Can an article be judged as credible without knowing its author? Wikipedia says yes, but I am unconvinced."
Read the full article here.
What do you think? Can an article be judged as credible without knowing its author?
US internet search giant Google triggered an international race to build an online library when it announced plans in December 2004 to digitise books and documents from a handful of big libraries (see Google Book Search). US based internet and software giants Yahoo, Microsoft and Amazon have since announced separate plans while France, angry that private companies took the lead, has pushed for the creation of a public digital library.
Read more here.
What copyright issues need to be considered when creating a digital library?
This week this blog covered several important stories and raised a number of interesting issues:
- Google continued its attempts to capture the Chinese search engine market (as rumours circulated that China was contemplating creating its own internet), settled its lawsuit against Lane’s Gifts, and saw a new competitor, in Microsoft, enter the search engine business. This blog also asked these questions about Google: Can Google commit libel through its search engine results? What are the the potential privacy implications of Google’s Desktop Search software? Does Google’s image search constitute a breach of US copyright laws? We also saw inside the Googleplex.
- Russia was warned that its chances of joining the World Trade Organization this year will fade if the government pushes ahead with new legislation on intellectual property rights
- The Electronic Frontier Foundation started its fight against charging a fee for email, and the New York Times weighed in on the debate by posing the question "Are consumers going to start having to spend a lot more to surf the Web?.
- Privacy concerns about e-commerce surfaced this week with the news that customers of the online payments service iBill had had their personal information released onto the internet.
- Australia was found to be lagging behind other developed nations in terms of broadband internet speed, yet in Great Britain people spend more time on the internet than watching television.
- The Browser from Business 2.0 Magazine reported on a scary reminder of the bubble years, criticism of Microsoft's Origami, how an Intel demo turned into a shouting match, and how a Google acquisition could challenge Microsoft Word.
- Some of the complexities of e-voting were seen in litigation in North Carolina.
- As the US Department of Justice launched in inquiry into allegations of price fixing by top music labels on their charges for digital downloading, other options were being considered around the world. A new online music service aims to offer CDs for $US1 ($1.35) by letting members trade used physical discs and France considered whether to legalise peer-to-peer file-sharing through scheme that allowed internet users to download as much as they want as long they paid a small monthly fee. Meanwhile, it was reported that “radio podcasting is rapidly moving from the realm of hip and hype into serious media”.
- A report by Symantec found that cyber-criminals are focusing less on destroying data and increasingly on attacks designed to silently steal data for profit.
- eBay removed from its website an advertisement for a 1982 BMW that was advertised as once belonging to one of the gunmen in the Columbine High School killings, only to see the seller set up a personal website to solicit bids on the car at http://www.buykleboldsbmw.com/.
- A story involving threats made on a MySpace.com website provoked this question: Is the internet a safe place for children?
- Blackberry settled its patent infringement lawsuit filed by NTP
- Content regulation in China, a theme considered in this blog last week, resurfaced as Microsoft denied that it had any involvement in the arrest of a Chinese journalist on subversion charges. Some of the inherent difficulties in content regulation also made news this week.
- Tuesday’s Australian IT liftout reported on e-healthcare, Google’s profit projections and research by Seccom Networks that suggests up to a third of companies are having information taken from their computers by adware or spyware.
- Finally, these questions about blogs were asked: Why do people read blogs? When bloggers comment on issues, should they disclose any potential conflicts of interest? Who should profit from a blog?
As the report notes, "The breach has broad privacy implications for the victims. Until it was brought low by legal and financial difficulties, iBill was a top credit-card processor for adult entertainment websites."
To read about the details of this story, click here.
- The launch of a new Internet incubator is a scary reminder of the bubble years.
- Microsoft's Origami draws criticism.
- Intel demo turns into shouting match.
- Google acquisition could challenge Microsoft Word.
The question is asked following an article in The Times reporting that Google has been asked by Premiership footballer Ashley Cole's solicitors to explain why his name has been linked to the word “gay” in internet search results.
Read more here and here.
The Rocky Mountain News is now reporting that the seller has now set up a personal website to solicit bids on the car at http://www.buykleboldsbmw.com/.
Should the seller be allowed to create this website? Although you might find the nature of this website unpleasant, is there any legal justification for banning such a site or closing it down?
Does this fact surprise you? Are people spending too much time on the internet?
Are you concerned by the potential privacy implications of Google's Desktop software?
Some of the legal complexities relating to e-voting are currently being considered by the courts in North Carolina. If you are interested in e-voting and want to know what is being litigated in North Carolina, click here.
If you would like to know more news about e-voting in the US, visit Voters Unite.
Do you agree with the decision? How do you think the appeal will be decided? Do you agree with Cody's conclusion that, even if the decision is upheld on appeal, "the vitality of Web does not appear in jeopardy as a result of the district court’s decision"?
This report reminds us of the important role that intellectual property rights are playing in the promotion of free trade through free trade organisations and agreements, especially in bilateral agreements with the United States.
Do you agree that this material should have been removed from the eBay website? Is this censorship, or should eBay be able to decide what is sold through its website?
Read a summary of the report here. And this is how The Australian reported the story.
Would you share music in this way? Would such a system be legal in Australia?
Some of these issues are covered in this article from the New York Times, "Wal-Mart Enlists Bloggers in P.R. Campaign" (free subscription required).
- "There are conflicting reports as to whether China is considering creating an internal Internet structure that is not governed by ICANN. Reports in the China People's Daily suggested that China would create top level domains using Chinese characters as addresses. A lot of the non-English world wants to extend addresses to their own alphabets, something with which ICANN has been moving glacially slow.
Reports are that China is working with second-level domains, rather than .cn, .com, and .net as suggested by other reports.
A report in the Toronto Star by Professor Michael Geist suggests that whether top or second level domains are involved, the prospects of China being used as a model by other countries has the potential to up-end U.S. control of top level domain servers. China is a little different from most countries in that the population of Internet users is large enough that the Chinese government could, indeed, make the split work for that country. Critics believe if China successfully splits from the Internet as it is currently governed, the government there would be able to censor content even more than is possible under current circumstances.
Stories on this from CIO Today, the Toronto Star, and Xinhua."
- Would charging for email be just like a road toll?
- When will email cease to be free?
- Would charging for email introduce a two-tiered system?
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has started an open letter to AOL in which it expresses its serious concern with AOL's adoption of Goodmail's CertifiedEmail, seeing it as a threat to a free and open internet. Read the letter and see if you agree with EFF's argument? What are some of the counter-arguments?
For some background and commentary, see Ben at LawFont.
- A United States Congressional Committee has accused Google (and other internet companies) of a "sickening and eveil" collaboration with the Chinese government and of being complicit in the jailing and torture of dissidents. This stems from Google's agreement with the Chinese government to block various politically sensitive terms from their new China specific site, Google.cn. Read more here.
- The Electronic Frontier Foundation has called for internet companies to adopt a code of conduct when engaging with authoritarian regimes.
- While all the controversy dominates the media, Beijing News, a Beijing newspaper, indicates it may be academic as Google's new China specific site doies not have a license. Read more here.
Is the internet a safe place for children? What can the law do to help protect children when they go online? Or is simply something that parents need to monitor?
What do you think of the original French scheme? Is such a scheme a solution to the problem of illegal downloading? Should peer-to-peer file-sharing be legal? Why? Or why not?
- The federal government's committment to e-health, through HealthConnect, has been called into question by Queensland Health. Read about it here. What role can e-healthcare play in our health system? Is government adequately committed to e-health? Is e-health simply a waste of money? What legal issues would inherently surround e-health? (Think about privacy law?)
- Following on from Google's profit projections mentioned in this blog last week, Google's chief executive Eric Schmidt says he sees no limit to the search engine's ability to increase advertising revenue, allaying investor concerns about slowing growth. Read more here.
- Research by Seccom Networks suggests that up to a third of companies are having information taken from their computers by adware or spyware. The research apparently reveals that about only two in every 100 companies in Australia are able to identify any threat, mitigate it and collect forensic evidence so legal action can be taken. Read more here. What does this mean for Australian businesses? And what does it tell us about the difficulty in collecting forensic evidence in an electronic and digital environment?
What do you think? Can bloggers better fulfil these functions? Could the blog hasten the end of traditional media sources?
For further discussion see the Tech Law Prof Blog.
How should the major music labels respond to this trend?
However, the New York Times reports (free subscription required) that the relatively innocent site Boing Boing: A Directory of Wonderful Things had been blocked by SmartFilter on the basis that a site reviewer from SmartFilter had "spotted something fleshy" and incorrectly (or at the least unfairly) labelled the site with the Nudity characterisation.
As is noted in the article, "There is far too much content on the Internet for one company to review manually, so they have to cut corners. And they're going to fall further behind as the Web gets bigger."
Is there a solution to this problem? Should we just accept that it is impossible to provide effective content regulation for the internet? Should we even go so far to say that there should be no regulation of the internet?
What do you think? Who should profit?
- The big copyright story was the release of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs handing down its report on the inquiry into technological protection measures.
- The other copyright story was that Apple iTunes Music Store stated that it would not be releasing local download figures.
- Moving away from copyright, the blog considered whether email on the Internet should be free. Would charging for email be just like a road toll? When will email cease to be free? And would charging for email introduce a two-tiered system? Would a charging for email reduce our dependence on email?
- Phishing continues to be a threat to Australia, while some US states, like Virginia, are fighting back.
- Internet usage continues to grow, as does the google juggernaut.
- Despite the promises of Bill Gates, spam continues to be a problem, forcing companies and law firms to find ways of limiting spam.
- Threats, hackers and cyberviolence continue to provoke further regulation of the internet.
- Content regulation of the internet in China. This is a major legal, technological and political issue that will be considered throughout the semester and warrants more comment and attention.
I hope you found some of these links and issues interesting. Please post your comments to encourage more debate and discussion.
- South Korea is the world's most wired country, boasting the highest per capita rate of broadband Internet connections.
- The term cyberviolence encompasses anything from online insults to sexual harassment and cyberstalking.
- Prosecutors are beginning to respond to the threat posed by cyberviolence.
- Also responding is the government, who plans to introduce a bill that real-name authentication.
- Websites too are responding by actively seeking to filter comments.
There are four questions worthing considering here. First, is given the nature of the virtual environment of the internet is cyberviolence really a threat or danger? Second, are the respective responses of prosecutors, the government and individual websites warranted and proportionate to whatever threat or danger is posed? Will real-name authentication, which would have the effect of removing anonymous online speech in South Korea, be a threat to free speech? Do we, and should we, have a right to anonymous speech?
Is there anything wrong with a two tiered system? If users are prepared to pay for an email system that guarantees increased speed and authentication, why shouldn't just accept that it is their right to do so? It all comes back to the fundamental questions: should email be free, and why?
Do you agree or disagree? Is the handwritten note gaining currency?
Here are some other recent stories relating to content regulation in China:
- The Chinese government continues to prosecute people for subversion for online writings. For example, on Tuesday the AP reported that a Chinese journalist has been whose reports on rural poverty and unemployment riled local officials has been charged with subversion after posting essays on the internet.
- China is cracking down on spam and piracy.
- Much to the chagrin of the US government, various internet companies have agreed to China's censorship demands.
For a detailed study, see this report from the OpenNet Initiative: Internet Filtering in China in 2004-2005.
Of course, the Chinese government defends its right to regulate the internet in the way it does.
There are really two issues here. First, how successful has China's regulation been? And second, assuming the Chinese government's attempts at regulation have been relative successful, should a government be able to regulate what its citizens can access through the internet? So basically, the first is a practical or technical question - does it work? - while the second is the moral or philosophical question on the role of government and the value of free speech? Any thoughts or different perspectives? Who would defend what China is doing?
A copy is available here:
This is more a straight IP issue, but has some impact on Internet distribution of content.
We need to think about why should email be free? Is it just because it always has been? Or are there other reasons? Note that for the moment at least, the plan is only charge to businesses. Will this last, or will all email users eventually have to pay a fee for each email they send? Would charging a fee for each email sent impact upon the use and adoption of email and the internet?
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