Back in December, we noted that it appeared that Australia was about to get its own SOPA, and that appears to now be happening. The Australian press is reporting that Attorney General George Brandis is ready to introduce site blocking legislation that mimics SOPA almost directly, in that it would force ISPs to block access to foreign websites, based on claims that those websites facilitated copyright infringement. This was the key part of SOPA, which was rejected, in part, because it would lead to serious concerns about the way in which the underlying internet functioned. Forcing ISPs to block entire sites breaks some fundamental principles of the internet. So, you wouldthink that perhaps the geniuses behind Australia’s plan would at least talk to internet providers first before moving forward with this plan, right? Well, you’d be wrong:
John Stanton, CEO of telco industry body the Communications Alliance, said it was “disappointing” that the industry had not been consulted on the bill prior to its impending introduction.
The bill is coming from Australian Attorney General George Brandis, who has been pushing for exactly this for quite some time, after only listening to the entertainment industry voices, and refusing to discuss the issue with consumer advocates, or those who understand the pointlessness and danger of full site blocking. Brandis also has ignored the careful, and detailed, process that the Australia Law Reform Commission went through investigating copyright reform, in which it proposed a number of ways to modernize Australia’s copyright system. Instead, Brandis is just focused on giving Hollywood what it wants, with apparently no consideration for what that means for the public or the internet.
Of course, we all know what happened when the US Congress tried to rush through SOPA. It will be interesting to see how Australians react to a similar proposal, pushed by a politician who has made it pretty clear that the technical details of the internet laws he pushes are not that important to him, just so long as he can pretend that he’s being “tough” on criminals.