An Attack on Online Anonymity

Today, I was wondering what I could blog about and the Government of South Australia handed it to me on a platter via the News and Electronic Frontiers Australia websites.

In a nutshell, the Government in this state has amended the South Australian Electoral Act 1985 to require that people publishing election-related content (both print and digital) provide their full name and address.

Now, the media seems to be in a flurry about this since there is a great opportunity to flame Attorney-General Michael Atkinson (infamous for being the sole Attorney General in Australia opposing the introduction of an R 18+ or X18+ rating for video games despite an existence of a similar rating for films). At present, video games that exceed the definition of MA15+ are usually “refused classification” including the recent Left 4 Dead 2 video game which was initially refused classification but then modified in order to gain an MA15+ rating.

One would wonder how the Government of South Australia would be able to enforce such an amendment or where the boundaries actually lie. For instance, if I am overseas and provide commentary on the South Australian election would my publication be subject to this legislation? Is it simply restricted to content created and distributed within South Australia? Michael Atkinson seems to stop short of including Twitter in his belief of the scope of the legislation in his likening of it to a “mobile phone conversation”.

Seems like a very poorly drafted and approved piece of legislation to me.

Personally, I find lawmaking such as this incredibly alarming. It seems that we have large number of religious conservatives with a stronghold on the legislative process whilst the groups with half a clue are stuck in the minority parties or sidelined altogether. I wonder how the Australian Democrats would respond if they still had any sort of representation in parliament.

I can’t help but wonder if anyone is keeping the bastards honest at the moment.

Fortunately, there are groups such as GetUp that are making attempts to garner support against unpopular policies such as Internet censorship (which will be a topic for another day). Whether or not they are actually effective remains to be seen.

It remains to be seen what will happen at the next South Australian election (likely to be held next month) but if current opinion polling holds true, it may well be that this ride ain’t over yet.

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