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Oz anti-censorship site is censored

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The Australian company that runs the .com.au domain registry has been accused of abandoning its own procedures to censor a website satirising communications minister Stephen Conroy's ISP filtering regime.

On Friday afternoon, Sapia Pty Ltd, the company behind stephenconroy.com.au, was told by auDA that they had three hours to explain its use of the domain or it would be withdrawn.

"After several attempts at convincing them to give us reasonable time to reply we made a last-ditch attempt at 4.10pm stating that we provide a consultancy product with 'Stephen Conroy' in it's name," the firm said on its new site stephen-conroy.com.

"We hoped that this would at least enable us to stay up over the weekend, but they didn't want to know."

Stephenconroy.com.au was subsequently taken down by 5pm.

The move has prompted accusations of censorship against auDA. It denied any political interference.

"We were not contacted by anyone in the government," CEO Chris Disspain told ZDNet.com.au. "This was picked up by our normal checks and balances."

Groups opposed to the Australian government's ISP filtering regime were particularly outraged by the three-hour deadline imposed by auDA.

Sapia Pty noted it was an "unusually short period of time for domain eligibility complaints to be arbitrated". "This time frame was manifestly inadequate to obtain representation and prepare an appropriate response," it added.

Disspain said the domain had so far only been deactivated, and that the firm had two weeks to establish its eligibility to use the name again. He blamed the short initial deadline on the fact it was being checked on a Friday and auDA would not want an ineligible domain to remain in use for a further two days.

Stephen Conroy has been vilified by many in and around the Australian internet industry as the driving force behind the country's forthcoming ISP filtering programme, which will target material on "bestiality, sexual violence, detailed instruction in crime, violence or drug use and/or material that advocates the doing of a terrorist act".

On Sapia Pty's new site, outside auDA's control, Conroy is satirised as "minister for fascism". ®

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