• DBCDE forum reveals filter legislation not drafted

    Apr 29 2010, 3:57

    Delimiter has reported today on screenshots of a forum being hosted internally by the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE), which suggest that there is yet to be a complete draft of the planned legislation and the possibility that it will be made an offence to promote methods of circumventing the filter:

    Electronic Frontiers Australia today revealed what it said was evidence that Stephen Conroy’s department was hosting a protected online forum to discuss controversial issues about the Government’s internet filter initiative, including the lack of a complete draft of the planned legislation as of several weeks ago and the possibility of making it an offence to promote methods of circumventing the filter.

    Delimiter has sighted apparent screenshots from the forum possessed by the EFA. The digital rights advocacy group believes the site is being hosted internally by the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE). In the screenshots, ISPs such as Pacific Internet and Webshield — which will be required to implement the scheme if it goes ahead — discuss the filter with un-named departmental officials.

    The office of Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has been contacted with a list of questions to respond to the information contained in the forum.

    In December, Communications Minister Conroy had stated the filter legislation would hit Parliament by March, a time frame echoed by Labor Senator Kate Lundy in early February.

    But in a posting on the forum which appeared to be dated April 13, the Department wrote that at that stage “there is no complete draft of the legislation”, although the drafting process had commenced.

    “One of the purposes of consulting with ISPs through this forum is to seek feedback on issues that will be covered in the legislation, which the Department can then take into account in the drafting process,” it added.

    No decision had yet been taken on whether the Government would publicly release an exposure draft of the filter legislation, as it has recently done with similar broadband legislation, the department wrote.

    In essence, DBCDE added, the legislation will require ISPs to filter URLs on the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s Refused Classification (RC) blacklist, without specifying exactly how they did it — “consistent with usual drafting practice and the desire to keep legislation as technologically neutral as possible”.

    Read more here.