I got this off the humbug mailing list... someone on this mailing list
might be interested, so I'm forwarding it on:
What follows is a re-post (with permission) of an email to EFA members
on Friday. I encourage everyone to visit http://www.efa.org.au/ and
consider joining Electronic Frontiers Australia, for your own sake.
----- Forwarded message from Dale Clapperton <efachair@...> -----
Subject: EFA member update: Police Censorship Bill and Whirlpool Lawsuit
Dear EFA Member,
The last week has been an extremely busy one for EFA, so this is an
opportune time to let you know what EFA has been doing to protect your
rights, and the rights of all Australian Internet users.
Yesterday, out of the blue, Senator Coonan introduced a Bill into the
Senate that would give the Australian Federal Police sweeping and
unchecked powers to block access to Internet material by decree, based
on what the police 'believe' the purpose or effect of the material is.
EFA is quite simply appalled by this Bill. It is an affront to the rule
of law and will likely be used as a tool of political censorship by the
police. Australia is not a police state and the police should not be
the judge, jury, and executioner of Internet content.
EFA has issued a media release about the Bill
(http://www.efa.org.au/Publish/PR070920.html), which we expect to gain
media attention in the coming days.
Parliament may not sit again before the Federal election is called.
This Bill is typical of the contempt with which the coalition treats the
Internet and the rights of all Australians to be free of ill-conceived
government censorship. Should the coalition be returned to power, this
Bill is likely to become law. Remember these issues on election day.
Last Tuesday brought news that a software vendor had sued the owner of
popular Australian discussion forum whirlpool.net.au for "injurious
falsehood". The software vendor, 2Clix Australia Pty Ltd, alleged that
the owner of whirlpool had maliciously published false statements about
2Clix's software, with the intent of damaging their business.
A number of EFA members contacted us to express their concern over the
EFA made contact with Whirlpool and offered them whatever assistance we
could provide. EFA also issued a press release
(http://www.efa.org.au/Publish/PR070912.html) condemning the lawsuit,
which created a considerable amount of media attention. I was
interviewed by a number of journalists, including from Channel 7, who we
understand are preparing a feature article on the lawsuit.
EFA contacted a number of legal practitioners that we have existing
relationships with, with a view to finding pro-bono representation for
Whirlpool. We received an encouraging response, but thankfully this
proved to be unnecessary.
The overwhelming public backlash against 2Clix caused them to back-flip
and announce that they would abandon the lawsuit. EFA issued a press
release (http://www.efa.org.au/Publish/PR070919.html) welcoming this
news. Although the paperwork to end the legal action has not yet been
filed, 2Clix's solicitors have confirmed to Whirlpool that they are
instructed to discontinue the action. This is a true victory for people
Whirlpool is not alone in this type of fight. EFA knows of at least
three other cases currently before the courts in which operators of
discussion forums have been sued (for defamation, leaking confidential
documents, and racial vilification) because of what third parties have
posted on their forums. These actions are an attack on free speech, and
on the infrastructure that permits members of the public to speak.
Adverse results in these cases threatens the provision of discussion
sites such as Whirlpool. Yet, the majority of these sites do not have
100,000 members to support them, or to make donations towards their
legal costs. EFA plays a vital role in assisting people in this
situation by attempting to find them pro-bono legal representation, and
providing other assistance.
We rely on your membership fees and donations to perform this vital
In closing, I have established a personal blog at
http://defendingscoundrels.com/ - the topics that I blog about may be of
interest to many of you.
We're proud to keep fighting the good fight on your behalf, and we
appreciate your words of thanks.
----- End forwarded message -----
Ivan Lazar Miljenovic