Post one of Australia's banned links, get fined AU$11,000/day

Alys sez, "The Australian communications regulator is going to fine those who link to sites that are listed on their blacklist. It threatened an online forum with an $11,000/day fine over a link posted to an anti-abortion website that was on the blacklist. To add insult to injury, several pages of Wikileaks have also ended up on their blacklist, due to their posting of the Danish list of banned websites."
Electronic Frontiers Australia said the leak of the Danish blacklist and ACMA's subsequent attempts to block people from viewing it showed how easy it would be for ACMA's own blacklist - which is secret - to be leaked onto the web once it is handed to ISPs for filtering.

"We note that, not only do these incidents show that the ACMA censors are more than willing to interpret their broad guidelines to include a discussion forum and document repository, it is demonstrably inevitable that the Government's own list is bound to be exposed itself at some point in the future," EFA said.

"The Government would serve the country well by sparing themselves, and us, this embarrassment."

Last week, Reporters Without Borders, in its regular report on enemies of internet freedom, placed Australia on its "watch list" of countries imposing anti-democratic internet restrictions that could open the way for abuses of power and control of information.

Banned hyperlinks could cost you $11,000 a day


  1. So we can get fined for posting hyperlinks to sites on the blacklist, but we aren’t allowed to know what’s on the blacklist in the first place. Um, right. So I guess the safest thing an Australian can do (ok, more like “the logical conclusion”) is not post any links at all. We didn’t need hyperlinks anyway, they are overrated.

  2. Censorship is the tool of those who have the need to hide actualities from themselves and others. Their fear is only their inability to face what is real. Somewhere in their upbringing they were shielded against the total facts of our experience. They were only taught to look one way when many ways exist —Charles Bukowski

  3. It’s not a question of weather or not the link should be posted. It’s because it’s an abuse of their power to ban the posting of these links and to threaten fines on them is even worse. It’s a violation of our (i’m an Australian) freedom.

  4. dmmnit! grumble grumble, where’s that quote? Locke? Hume? Who first clearly said the bloody law has to be written for all to see and know for a valid social contract.

  5. This is a sad momment for all Australians… Can’t wait to see this over turned in the Federal Court!

  6. I wonder how much someone would get fined for spamming the AMCA with goatse.

    Also, why are they banning an anti-abortion site? Is it due to the graphic pictures that are sometimes used as scare tactics?

    While some sites are horrible, I just don’t understand the idea of punishing people for it.

  7. As Iran is finding out, it’s called the WEB for a reason – you can’t just pull one thread…

  8. And if you hyperlinked to a google search for the page in question, would you be breaking the law, I wonder?

    If no: pointless law, then.

    if yes: slippery slope. It’s illegal to link to sites that link to banned sites? What about sites that link to sites that link to band sites?

  9. They made the EFA take down a link due to the fine as well.

    This particular rule only applies to Australian hosts in Australia, it doesn’t apply anywhere else, and the reason for that is because it’s covered under the Broadcast Services Act(specifically sections 5 and 7, the ACMA’s official policy can be found here)

  10. I’ve explained the law relating to take-down notices and link-deletion notices here.

    There are three key points. First, under the law, ACMA doesn’t have a discretion when it finds a site hosted in Australia linking to ‘prohibited content’. It must issue the link-deletion notice. Don’t blame ACMA. Blame the politicians responsible for the law.

    Second, ‘prohibited content’ is not the same as illegal content. It’s a legislative term that covers even some content that is merely unsuitable for people under 15 (classified MA 15+ in Australian terms).

    Finally, you cannot be fined $11,000 per day for hosting a link to ‘prohibited content’ in Australia per se. You can only be fined for failing to comply with a link-deletion notice from ACMA instructing you to stop hosting such a link. (That’s not really that much better, but the point is that you won’t get a surprise fine, though you must comply with the notice very quickly).

  11. Welcome Australia to the list! Along with China, Iran….
    Not a very good list to be in, but …

  12. I thought i read somewhere its only hyperlinks of banned addresses that are illegal. If you type the address and it is not clickable they cant do anything..

  13. Is anyone outside of Australia compiling a list of these links? If so, it needs to be posted on some major-trafficked site, like BoingBoing, Slashdot or where ever. Somewhere with a lot of visibility, and where, if Australia tried to ban it, it would cause a much larger outrage.

    I assume that the start of such a list could be compiled by contacting the people who have received take-down notices, right?

  14. samsam, did you rtfa? The article’s author also had your very idea, so he wrote an article, and he suggests Wikileaks.

  15. I’m still pissed that they went ahead with this retarded crap to appease those twerps at the Family First party. What about the more pressing problem of Bot-net proliferation? Surely a proper national security issue should be getting funding?

  16. So instead of posting a link to a government-censored URL, you post a link to an out-of-juristiction server that re-directs to the government-censored URL?

  17. @ #15: When Google is notified by a government (or individual, or organization, or whatever) that it is illegal to link to such-and-such sites in a country (and if this is indeed probably the case) Google typically removes the links from any search results in that country’s Google domain. That is, and other countries remain unchanged, and only that one country’s Google-dot-whatever stops including the locally illegal links and adds a message at the bottom of each search-results page mentioning that some links have been excluded for legal reasons in searches where this is the case. (It is then up to the local government to force ISPs to block and/or to allow its citizens to simply get their “illegal” links from websites in other countries). And this doesn’t happen just due to censorship. Countries have all kinds of weird laws about what information can or can’t be published. Just one example: Some countries have laws that say that certain kinds of criticisms and complaints (even when true) are slander/defamation, and that sites that link to such content are aiding in the slander/defamation. Another example: Some countries limit what information may be published about attorneys who are defending alleged criminals, so if a news article specifies who the attorneys are and where their office is, Google would be breaking local law by linking to that article. Etc. Fun stuff.

  18. Someone will eventually write an app that posts thousands of verboten links an hour on government owned web sites from a computer outside of the country with a cycling IP. The country will go broke fining itself.

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