An Open Letter Regrading Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill


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As a web developer, internet filters scare both me and my clients. “But if your not doing anything wrong you shouldn’t have to worry” is the reply I hear from the crowd. Which would be true, until the protection mechanism fails. Labour tired to do a similar thing a few years ago & a few small business websites ‘accidentally’ ended up on the black list. Imagine if your small business site gets attacked or hacked, then it’s detected by the filter as a naughty one, ” o we better block it” the filter thinks. Your business is now practically dead in the water if you rely at all on having a working website (which is a lot these days).

There is also a fundamental technical issue at play, if a site is accessed via SSL (the little padlock next to the URL, the https – like this one does), then nothing between my browser and the server should be able to read the contents. (Although thanks to our mate Ed, we know that the NSA unwraps these packets and then rewards them because they have the keys to the kingdom). So if all I have to do in theory is have a secure site to bypass the block, all should be well right? If they can block it, then something is fundamental to internet security will need to be broken, or they block based on the servers IP address.

But in this day and age one IP address doesn’t equal one website. One IP address equals multiple websites. So when the filter blocks one site, multiple sites could fall down too. Again as a small business, you are stuffed. (At least until you can get a new IP address).

Thanks to the guys at choice, we can all create awareness around this issue (I have added to the original email).

Hi Catherine,

Similarly to the metadata bill (which was sadly passed), I’m concerned about this one.

It is the equivalent to blocking roads & streets in high crime neighbourhoods, because cars might drive on those roads, which may or may have passengers that may or may not commit a crime in them.

I am asking you to vote against the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill.

This Bill will make internet service providers police consumers’ downloads with an industry-run internet filter.

But this isn’t just about stopping Pirate Bay – it covers sites for online tools like Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) that help consumers get around the ‘Australia tax’ and access legitimate content from overseas.

The law will also prevent other parties from seeking to have site blocks removed, for example if it’s in the public interest or it’s blocked accidentally.

If you won’t vote against the Bill, then I ask you to make sure that it won’t accidentally capture legitimate websites, including VPNs.

Also please ensure that other parties can make public interest arguments when the courts are considering imposing or varying website-blocking orders. Without this, it will be a one-sided, uncontested application process, which is worrying given the potential for legitimate sites to be blocked.

Specific recommendations for addressing these problems can be found in CHOICE’s submission to the inquiry, available at (submission no. 34).

When the U.S tired to do a similar thing with their SOPA Bill a few years ago, the internet went black to make politicians wake up, and see that the entertainment industry cannot control the internet. Unfortunately we don’t have the same power here in Australia, but hopefully through an open conversation with all parties, not just the entertainment industry we can find a better solution to the issue of copyright infringement.


Andrew Bennett

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