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Media Release

ACS Welcomes ABA Internet Report

Sun 7th July 1996 - The Australian Computer Society (ACS) has thrown its weight behind the Australian Broadcasting Authority's (ABA) report on regulation of the Internet, which was released last Friday.

Tom Worthington, President of the Society, has welcomed the document, calling it comprehensive, up-to-date and reflecting a clear understanding of the nature of on-line services and the Internet.

Rather than pushing for a criminal law regime to deal with on-line content issues, the ABA recommends a self-regulatory framework (as proposed by the ACS) for service providers with a content labelling scheme based on PICS (Platform for Internet Content Selection) standards.

Complaints would first go to the service provider (to be handled in accordance with the code of practice) and, if the complainant remains dissatisfied, then to an appeal body (possibly the ABA).

ACS President, Tom Worthington, said he congratulates the ABA on their work and recommends the report to every one interested in this issue.

"I urge the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General to carefully consider the ABA's report at their next meeting and to reject the NSW proposals as a basis for Australian regulation," Mr Worthington said.

While the ACS has identified a number of issues that will require clarification, it is greatly encouraged by the approach the ABA has taken.

"One problem will be with the practicality of implementing the ABA's proposal that service providers conduct age verification of subscribers wanting "adult" material."

The final report points out that 'objectionable material' on-line is generally accompanied by warning labels, so "the chance of being involuntarily exposed to such material is low".

"While the ABA report will need to be given fuller consideration by the ACS, I believe it forms a more sound basis for addressing community concerns about the Internet than proposed legislation from the NSW Attorney-General," said Mr Worthington.

"I will be proposing the ACS contribute its experience in the establishment of codes for the industry."

Mr Worthington went on to say that the issue of Internet regulation concerns not only Australia, but all countries.

"I have forwarded details of the ABA report to IT societies around the world, via the International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP).

"The ACS has issued an invitation for them to meet in Canberra to discuss the issue during the 14th World Computer Congress, known as IFIP 96, in Canberra this September."

"In addition there will be a session on "Internet Nasties: Myth or Mismanagement?" at the same conference."

Detailed comments on the ABA report, by Philip Argy, Chairman of the ACS Economic, Legal and Social Implications Committee are available at:


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The Australian Computer Society is the professional association in Australia for those in the computing and information technology fields. It was established in 1966. The Society has over 16,000 members and on a per capita basis is one of the largest compute societies in the world.

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