Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/05/26/five_years_ago/
Hardcore Web porn banned down under
26 May 1999
It was five years ago today... From time to time we dredge up a bit of Reg archive which puts us in mind of legendary historical characters. In this case, it's King Canute:
By Tim Richardson
Published Wednesday 26th May 1999 11:00 GMT
Asia-Pacific could be the focus of a tsunami of moral righteousness in the wake of Australia's decision to outlaw hardcore porn on the Internet. Politicians in Australia's Senate have piggy-backed existing legislation covering film classification to outlaw sexually explicit and violent content on the Net.
Earlier this month Japan's parliament voted to outlaw child pornography on the Net. Japan is believed to be the source of 80 per cent of all child porn on the Net. The Australian Broadcasting Authority, which polices the content of films down under, will have the power to order service providers to pull off sites containing porn. It will even have the power to block unsuitable material from being imported into Australia from foreign Web sites although exactly how this will be done is not yet clear.
But ISPs in Australia aren't happy with the new legislation, which still needs to be approved by the House of Representatives. "Filtering content will be slow and expensive and may disadvantage us compared to the rest of the world," said James Steele, of the Web company Interactive Multimedia speaking to Bloomberg.
Strewth. And all of this a good two years before we first reported on Aussie überLuddite Senator Richard Alston - the man who tried to ban online gambling, attempted to make forwarding emails a capital offence, blamed South Koreans' love of porn for that country's enthusiastic adoption of broadband, and sensationally spunked AU$4m on The Department of Communications, IT and the Arts website, bringing the stunning piece of work in a mere AU$3.4m over budget.
We have absolutely no idea if Oz's audacious plan to seize porn content as it flowed down the international telephone lines was ever implemented, or whether Richard Alston was ever able to say to an over-excited kangaroo: "What's that, Skip? Two kiddies watching Korean girl-on-girl in a Melbourne suburb? Just wait while I get my gun, Skip." Perhaps our Australian readers can provide illumination. ®
Poor old King Canute has apparently had some bad press in the past. We gather that his "holding back the tide" stunt was in fact to prove that he couldn't do it. It doubtless all means something terribly profound.