With the Australian government delaying introduction of its internet censorship legislation, there’s been some speculation that the policy may be dead. The more likely scenario however is that the policy has simply gone in to hibernation until after the Federal election. Despite the media and blogosphere cries of “backflip”, this is a smart tactical move. Tactically, delaying the legislation makes sense. Pushing it through before the election risks continuing the distracting public feud with the government’s critics. Delaying until after the election gives the ALP a range of options. Should the ALP fail to hold a majority in the Senate following the next election, ‘net censorship may once again become a political bargaining chip. Family First are strong supporters of mandatory ISP filtering, and have previously called for the […]
“To sue, or not to sue: that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous online reviews, Or to take suit against a sea of social media, And by opposing end them?” – HeathG with apologies to Shakespeare It seems that some business still don’t appreciate the perils of trying to silence critics with defamation suits. From McLibel, to the NYC Skank and Lindsay Lohan – businesses and celebrities are learning the hard way that suing your critics in to submission can be a very risky proposition.The latest example comes all the way from Kalamazoo, and it’s a classic example of what not to do in the the hyperconnected age of social media.
This week the West Australian government announced plans to introduce laws that could see people prosecuted for racist bumper stickers. The move was welcomed by West Australia’s Equal Opportunity Commissioner, who claimed the legislation was “overdue”. But is using the threat of legal penalties really the best approach to dealing with this kind of racist speech?
Whilst ignoring racist behaviour online won’t automatically make it go away, those trying to quash it through legal threats should recognise their actions may actually make matters worse. The SMH today reports that: “The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has threatened legal action against a widely read but controversial US-based website over an article that encourages racial hatred against Aborigines. … In a letter to Joseph Evers, the owner of Encyclopedia Dramatica (ED) – a more shocking version of Wikipedia that contains racist and other offensive articles dubbed as “satire” – the commission said it had received 20 complaints from Aborigines over the “Aboriginal” page on the site. (SMH 17/03/2010)” As online rights group EFA points out in the same SMH article, trying to censor […]