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Greens to challenge government site-blocking regime in the Senate

Media Release
Scott Ludlam 18 Jun 2015

The Australian Greens have warned against the Government's rush to legislate an online site-blocking scheme and today called on the Labor Party to delay a final vote on the bill when it comes before the Senate next week.

"The Government has proceeded with a punitive site blocking regime and completely ignored more practical options for copyright reform that have been on the table for years, Senator Scott Ludlam, Australian Greens communications spokesperson said today.

"At a bare minimum we need to see the Government's response to the Australian Law Reform Commission's review into copyright law before legislating for an internet filter directed by foreign rights holders.

"This is a dangerous and unnecessary piece of legislation that potentially criminalises legitimate use of VPNs or other tools.

"This is what happens when you get a Government that only listens to one side of the argument - the public interest gets left in the dust.

The Greens will today release their proposed amendments to the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2015.

"The Greens will move to delay debate on the bill until the Government tables its response to Australian Law Reform Commission's 2013 report on copyright reform and the 2013 House of Representatives inquiry into IT price hikes," said Senator Ludlam.

"Labor moved a similar amendment in the House which means the Senate potentially has the numbers to delay this bill until proper consideration is paid to these reports.

"We will also move to address concerns that VPNs or Geo-blocking could become illegal, and will tighten key definitions in the bill to prevent it being misused.

"I'm sick of the Abbott Government, with kneejerk ALP support, treating the internet as hostile territory to be controlled, filtered, blocked and surveilled by Government agencies and powerful corporate interests," Senator Ludlam concluded.


Australian Greens amendments

Second reading amendments
-Amendment delaying Senate debate on the bill until the Government tables its response to Australian Law Reform Commission's 2013 report on copyright reform and the 2013 House of Reps IT price hike inquiry

Committee stage amendments
- Clear up the definition of sites targeted by the bill so that it cannot include Virtual Private Networks which have legitimate purposes
- Remove the ability of the bill to target sites "facilitating" copyright infringement, as this could target legitimate sites
- Change the definition of sites targeted by the bill to specify that the sites must be "flagrantly" infringing copyright. This is referred to elsewhere in the bill but currently not required to be considered.
- Allowing third parties (for example, consumer/public interest groups) to join the injunction applications as parties to help oppose websites being blocked
- Amend the Copyright Act to explicitly state that evading geoblocking does not constitute copyright infringement - the bill is currently unclear.
- Give any third-party the ability to seek a review of a website block.

 

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