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Proposed changes to the Queensland criminal code.
It seems the fight against evil never ends...
This is a clipping from the Sunday Mail, the local
sunday newspaper (althogh tabloid would be a better
word for it). As you can observe, it is one of those
papers that have a paragraph:sentence ratio of 1:1.
I hope it is of interest to you all. All spelling
mistakes are mine. All grammatical awkwardness are his. :-)
ONLINE MOVES 'OUT OF LINE'. [Date: 11/09/94 - PKM.]
(COMPUTERS with Peter Young) [Title of a regular
column - PKM.]
Proposed changes to the Queensland Criminal Code to crack down on
computer networks carrying information used for criminal acts are
sparking an outcry.
The proposals have been denounced as unworkable by a number of
online information providers who claim their businesses will
become untenable if the changes are brought in.
As part of a sweeping overhaul of the State's criminal code,
Attourney-General Wells plans to create two new offences falling
into the category of unlawful use of a computer.
They would make persons liable for up to 10 years for providing
information via computer networks which contributes to a crime.
One charge would relate to aiding the commission of a crime and
the other would deal with being an accessory before the fact.
Instructions on how to make bombs [like gunpowder? -PKM] or set
up a child pornography ring are the type of material the proposed
legislation wants to target.
The laws would apply equally to material downloaded from a local
electronic bulleting board system or that acquired by using a
commercial gateway to the international Internet system.
The legislation is intended to facilitate prosecution of people
who knowingly make such information available on their systems,
a spokesman for the Attorney-General said.
But Australian Internet service providers have condemned the
proposals as impractical and unable to be policed and have called
for "common carrier" protection similar to that enjoyed by Telecom.
Ian Peter, founder of Queensland-headquartered Internet provider
Pegasus Networks, branded the proposed laws "unworkable", saying
that they were out of touch with overseas thinking on the problem
of balancing free speech against the need to control access to
Rhys Weatherley, president to the non-profit Internet access group
BrisNet [Brisbane Net, for the geopolitically deprived - PKM], said
the proposed laws would give police "licence to arrest" power over
any computer network operator merely because offending material was
available on their networks.
He said the legislation would make scapegoats out of honest network
operators while failing to catch real offenders.
BrisNet would be forced to shut down rather than run the risk of
prosecution if the laws were adopted in their reputed form.
Hugh Irvine, a Melbourne businessman, whose company Connect.com.au
is a leading commercial gateway to the Internet, said he was happy
to co-operate with authorities to prevent hackers or child molesters
from using his service to pursue their practices.
However, he said that the planned Queensland legislation was equivalent
to charging Australia Post executives because criminals used the mail
to help plan a bank robbery.
"It is heading down the path of the wrong sort of State-run
surveillance and Connect.com.au would be unable to continue
functioning as a business if laws in the proposed form become a reality,
Also wading into the fray is Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA), a
public interest group set up to monitor threats to civil liberties in
EFA skokesman Garth Kidd labelled the Queensland proposals "a
worrying development that would stifle the implementation of online
services in Australia".
The article (and also the proposed legislation) were
brought to my attention by my father late last night. As a com-
puter professional with ~30 years experience, he was as disgusted
as I am with the proposals. He also understood quite clearly
how it was unworkable in practice. Some time this week, he will be
having a little chat on the subject with Wendy Edmonds, the local MLA
(Member of the [State] Legislature Assembly). It seems representative
cluelessness is the same the world over. :-<
Peter Murphy. <[email protected]>