In a Drum column a few weeks back I wrote about revelations that ASIC – Australia’s corporate regulator – had taken it upon itself to censor the internet using a relatively obscure section of the Telecommunications Act, Section 313. As Renai LeMay at Delimiter puts it, this section:
is not usually used to block websites, and there appears to be no public oversight of the process which ASIC is using, no appeals mechanism, and no transparency to the public or interaction with the formal justice system.
LeMay’s post demonstrates that they’re not planning to apologise for this any time soon. Now that it’s out in the open, ASIC is aggressively defending its censorship powers – for example, in this speech here.
And we’ve since learned that ASIC hasn’t accidentally blocked 1,200 websites, no, it has accidentally blocked a quarter of a million sites.
Here’s Greens Senator Scott Ludlam’s questioning ASIC about their internet filtering in Senate Estimates committee earlier this week.
Late last year Communications Minister Stephen Conroy announced that the government was finally abandoning its internet filter. This was widely applauded. But as the IPA’s Simon Breheny said at the time, the filter hadn’t really been abandoned at all. Instead, Conroy announced he was going to use Section 313 – exactly the section ASIC has been misusing – to achieve the same goal as the filter was intended to.