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Copyright law will help the Government’s website blocking

A government review has concluded that there are only minor changes needed to how agencies enforce website blocking, but it seems to ignore the impending changes to copyright law.

Under section 313 of the Telecommunications Act companies have to do their best to help government agencies enforce the law, including blocking websites. Many simply can’t fulfil the request because, as Paul Brooks highlights, many don’t have the equipment required to do it.

A review by the Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Communications saw no problem with a broad range of government agencies having the ability to block sites in the course of their duties, but saw the need for more expertise within the departments after the incident where ASIC accidentally blocked a quarter of a million websites, instead of just a handful. Laurie Patton, CEO of Internet Australia, welcomes the recommendations and says, whether you agree with blocking or not, there needs to be a focus on ensuring it is done correctly.

But there are ramifications from the Copyright Amendment Bill, discussed with Patrick Fair from law firm Baker and McKenzie. If the Bill is passed as drafted, all telcos will need to have blocking equipment in place, which increases the powers of government agencies to use it for their own purposes. Doesn’t this mean there’s a need for a more stringent method of oversight? Like a Judge, for example.

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