How to fix the Communications Decency Act – Be an advocate for what you believe
AUSTRALIA’S Communications Decentralisation Legislation, passed by the Lower House of Parliament in June, has come under attack from internet service providers (ISPs) and media companies.
A Federal Court injunction has been issued to block the legislation, with ISPs threatening to challenge the decision.
A spokeswoman for the Federal Government told the ABC the Federal Court had “no jurisdiction to issue an injunction against the legislative provisions of the Communications Act”.
However, she said the Government would review the Federal Circuit Court’s ruling on the legislation.
The Communications Decents Act, introduced in 2012, requires ISPs to remove offensive content from their websites within a specified time.
This was meant to ensure the safety of children, who were often the victims of online bullying.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said he had concerns about the legislation’s content restrictions.
“It’s an appalling breach of the rights of young people and young people’s right to be able to make their own choices,” Mr Shorten told ABC Radio Melbourne’s PM program.
“This bill has got to be stopped.”
Labor leader Bill Shortens says the Government must be more transparent on the Communications Authority’s draft Communications Decencies Act (CDA).
Photo: Alex Ellinghausen The Federal Government’s Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has previously defended the legislation and defended the role of ISPs in protecting children from online bullying, telling ABC radio in November that ISPs should have the right to do whatever they wanted.
“In a free society, you cannot have a government that restricts the freedoms of the individual to make decisions on what you want to listen to or what you’re watching,” he said.
However, the Communications Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has defended the Communications Agency’s draft legislation, which was due to be debated in the Lower Houses of Parliament this week.
“I think the best way to protect children is to ensure they have a safe and healthy Internet environment,” Mr Turnbull said.
“The Communications Authority has been able to provide that, and the ISPs are well within their rights to take whatever steps they want to do that.”
Mr Turnbull also said the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) would investigate any complaints made about the draft Communications Act.
Mr Turnbull said the Communications Department would be working with ISPs to address any concerns.
Labor’s communications spokesman, Anthony Albanese, said the issue was an “important” one.
He said Mr Turnbull had “put in place a process that would have an impact on the ISPs and ISPs should be working closely with the Federal Opposition and the media organisations to ensure that they have all the information they need to make sure that it’s right and the Communications Government is listening to the complaints”.
Mr Albanese said the proposed legislation was a step forward in protecting kids from bullying, but it did not address the underlying issue of censorship and the fact that the Government’s proposed Communications Act was being considered in the Upper House.