‘Embarrassed’ ACMA forced to change ways

Link to prohibited Web site causes ACMA to rethink its complaints handling process.

The Australian communications watchdog has modified its complaints handling process following the forced removal of a link to a prohibited Web site.

The decision comes after a threat by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to fine Web host Bulletproof Networks up to $11,000 a day for having a link to a banned anti-abortion Web site on Whirlpool.

In early January a Whirlpool community member known as ‘Foad’ lodged a complaint with ACMA about "offensive content" on an anti-abortion site, to which the authority later replied, deeming it prohibited content.

Unknown to ACMA, the complaint was only made after an argument on one of Whirlpool’s forums about whether the ACMA blacklist solely contained child sexual abuse material, and the complainant was only seeking a reaction.

ACMA’s response mistakenly contained the link to the prohibited site, which surged across Internet communities, with some still continuing to display it today.

ACMA is angry because they got caught out in Senate estimates a couple of weeks ago when they were questioned about it, said Electronic Frontier Foundation spokesperson Geordie Guy.

“ACMA did not seek the classification board’s opinion on the matter because apparently they’ve banned similar Web content before, and they were kind of annoyed that the complaint was generally just to see how they’d react not that someone was genuinely morally outraged by the content.

ACMA has stated in Senate estimates that they won’t rule out taking action against that person. But obviously the first thing they’ve done is issue a notice to Whirlpool, or rather Whirlpool’s host.”

In a statement, an ACMA spokesperson said the regulator has modified its replies to complainants to omit the URLs of prohibited content.

"ACMA must advise complainants of the outcomes of their complaints and ACMA's usual practice has been to include the relevant URLs in those responses," the spokesperson said. This measure was taken so complainants could see the action ACMA had taken.

Guy warns that Web hosts are going to have to become content police as ACMA start curtailing people’s freedoms like this.

It's terrible when ACMA starts throwing its weight around and really putting pressure like this on ISPs, who end up being responsible for everything that goes on [their networks], said Guy.

“Particularly when it’s our view that they’re doing so out of embarrassment because they got caught,” said Guy.

“There are people out there who believe that ACMA is needed to protect us from morally outrageous stuff but there’s very few people out there who believe that it’s okay to cover up the fact that you are doing that.”

According to ACMA, there are only a handful of instances from the 6000 investigations completed since January 1, 2000, where a complainant has published its response.

ACMA has not received any other complaints about links to the content concerned.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags ACMA

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Kathryn Edwards

Computerworld
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?