Australia Internet Censors Fine Site for Link to Pro-Life Page With Abortion Pics

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 17, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Australia Internet Censors Fine Site for Link to Pro-Life Page With Abortion Pics

by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 17
, 2009

Canberra, Australia ( — The Australian Internet censorship agency has fined a web site several thousands of dollars per day for linking to an American web site that publishes pictures of babies who die from abortions. The Australian Communications and Media Authority issued the threat last week.

The net nanny agency was created to help reduce the amount of child pornography online, but it has gone beyond that to prohibit Australians from accessing any sites it deems objectionable.

ACMA notified the Australian-based web discussion site Whirlpool that it would pay an AUS $11,000 per day fine ($7,600 US), because a forum member linked to an American web site containing graphic abortion pictures.

And when a governmental watchdog web site called Wikileaks published a list of web sites banned by other nations, ACMA threatened it with a fine as well.

The action is causing a furor for some pro-life advocates because the Australian governmental agency doesn’t publish a list of banned web sites. As a result, no one knows which pro-life web site has been banned on the island nation and if other pro-life web sites will be banned as well.

The ACMA actions have sparked outrage among Australians.

"ACMA has the power to force Australian web sites to remove web pages that it decides are ‘prohibited’, as well as links to ‘prohibited’ content, apparently," Robert Munro writes at the IT Examiner.

ACMA’s Internet blacklist has already expanded to include 1,370 web sites that would be blocked from access by all Australians under the government’s Internet censorship proposal.

That list could expand to 10,000 sites or more.

However, Munro says the problem may not expand because of what’s happened.

"The agency has such sweeping powers already, even though the Australian government’s proposed Internet censorship scheme has yet to be tested, the testing planned will likely be worthless because the country’s largest ISPs won’t be participating, and it appears probable that Australia’s Parliament won’t pass the ill-conceived Internet filtering plan" he writes.

The threat to the discussion forum has reportedly embarrassed the agency into modifying how it conducts itself.

In a statement, an ACMA spokesperson said it has modified its replies to complainants to omit the URLs of prohibited content.

"ACMA must advise complainants of the outcomes of their complaints and ACMA’s usual practice has been to include the relevant URLs in those responses," the spokesperson said.

This measure was taken so complainants could see the action ACMA had taken.

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