This is part of the Proof Hansard of the Senate Select Committee on Information Technology, sitting in Adelaide on 27 April 1998.  The full Proof Hansard in .PDF format (read it with the free Adobe Acrobat Reader) is available at:  This excerpt is from the uncorrected proof.

Return to the First Principles Issues page, which has full information about the Commitee's Inquiry.
Robin Whittle 18 May 1998.

This excerpt contains the evidence of three members of Electronic Frontiers of Australia


Monday, 27 April 1998

Members: Senator Ferris (Chair), Senator Quirke (Deputy Chair), Senators Calvert, Harradine, McGauran, Reynolds, Stott Despoja and Tierney

Senators in attendance: Senators Ferris, Harradine and Quirke

Terms of reference for the inquiry:

Evaluate the appropriateness, effectiveness and privacy implications of the existing self-regulatory framework in relation to the information and communications industries and, in particular, the adequacy of the complaints regime.

[12.12 p.m.]

AYNSLEY, Ms Brenda, Vice-Chair, Electronic Frontiers Australia, PO Box 382, 
North Adelaide, South Australia 5006

BAKER, Dr Michael T., Board Member, Electronic Frontiers Australia, PO Box 382, 
North Adelaide, South Australia 5006

CHAIR—Welcome. The committee prefers all evidence to be given in public, but you
may at any time request that your evidence, part of your evidence or answers to specific
questions be given in camera, which means in private, and the committee will consider any
such request.

The committee has before it submission No. 25 dated 23 January 1998. Are there any
alterations or additions you would like to make to the submission at this stage?

Ms Aynsley—No, thank you, Senator.

CHAIR—The committee has already authorised the publication of your submission
under a separate volume. I now invite you to speak to the committee and, at the conclusion
of your remarks, we have some questions for you.

Ms Aynsley—Thank you for the opportunity to appear before the committee today. We
are pleased that the committee has embarked on an inquiry into self-regulation and privacy
issues. However, we feel there are a number of important matters that have not received
adequate attention in hearings to date.

Regulatory proposals by the Australian government in relation to new communications
technologies are the exact opposite of what is needed in order to protect the interests of
Australian citizens in the new information age. We have excessive regulatory restrictions in
regard to the use of cryptography software, an important component of electronic commerce.
We have futile attempts at censorship of the Internet which fail to recognise the nature of the
medium and which try to treat it as if it were a broadcasting regime. Yet, in the one area
where it needs to regulate, the government has walked away from implementing privacy
legislation at the very time when it is becoming most needed.

EFA believes that attempts at content regulation of the Internet should be abandoned on
the basis that publication of globally agreed illegal material can already be prosecuted under
existing law and that regulations concerning contentious material are inappropriate in a world
where cultural differences cannot be easily reconciled.

We consider that codes of conduct applicable to the Internet services industry should
focus primarily on consumer protection matters and should not impose liability on service
providers for content that was not originated by them. We consider that it is time to totally
deregulate the unwieldy censorship classification system administered by the Office of Film
and Literature Classification. Self-regulation works well in the television industry and we see 
no reason why that experience should not be extended to the publishing, film, video and 
computer games industries. The role of the OFLC should be reduced to that of a watchdog 
responsible for ensuring compliance with the relevant industry guidelines.

Another area requiring urgent deregulation is that of cryptography policy. Australian
export industries are suffering as a result of the enforcement of archaic Cold War restrictions
which effectively ban the use of mathematics. Encryption is essential to security and
confidentiality of communications over public networks—which is the Internet—and is
especially important in the emerging field of electronic commerce.

The amendments to the Privacy Act currently before parliament represent a backflip in
policy at the worst possible time. Data matching and dataveillance—or data surveillance—
are becoming increasingly pervasive and we strongly urge the committee to recommend to
parliament the need for privacy legislation covering the private sector.

The recent deployment of calling number display, without agreed public awareness
targets being reached, is an appalling breach of trust which warrants the attention of the
committee. The fact that the TIO—Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman—does not
understand the technology, to the extent of giving misleading advice on silent numbers to the
committee in Canberra two weeks ago, gives little comfort that the general public under-stands
the privacy issues involved. Mr Pinnock told your committee in Canberra that silent
numbers were required to opt out of calling number display, when in fact that is not true.

CHAIR—For the record, I should tell you that he subsequently did correct that.

Ms Aynsley—The recently expanded interception provisions of the Telecommunications
Act should be reviewed so as to provide on-line users with a remedy against unwarranted
privacy intrusion. Such a review is currently taking place in the United States where it is
feared that similar imposition of interception facility costs on carriage service providers—
who are Internet service providers—provides no disincentive against overuse by law
enforcement agencies.

Finally, may we recommend to the committee that it urgently considers an inquiry into
year 2000 compliance in the public sector. This burning issue is becoming increasingly
urgent and it is somewhat alarming that the public sector is being so secretive about its
progress in this matter.

CHAIR—Dr Baker, do you wish to make any additional comments?

Dr Baker—No.

Senator HARRADINE—Have you given any submission to the Joint Committee of
Public Accounts inquire which includes an examination of EC and taxation regimes?

Ms Aynsley—Not at this stage. The ATO invited selected people to a committee for that
purpose, but we were not one of them.

Senator HARRADINE—This is a public hearing that I am talking about of a joint
parliamentary committee.

Ms Aynsley—No, we have not, Senator.

Senator HARRADINE—Incidentally, what are your views about that question?
Ms Aynsley—Which question, Senator?

Senator HARRADINE—Taxation on EC.

Ms Aynsley—I do not think that we have a formal view on that issue.

Senator HARRADINE—You say that the OFLC should be disbanded. Are you
indicating that in future the Internet and associated on-line services will be such that they
will be the predominant manner in which material or information is provided into the home
and libraries?

Dr Baker—That is not an issue that we have taken up within Electronic Frontiers
Australia. Certainly it will not be exclusive. Just as each new medium that comes along
never replaces previous media—when the radio came along, it did not replace newspapers
and when television came along, it did not replaced radio—I do not think that the Internet is
going to replace anything. On the other hand, certainly its role will increase, but exactly
where the balance is going to be, I do not know.

Senator HARRADINE—I am trying to assess why you would suggest that the OFLC
should be disbanded.

Ms Aynsley—We are not sure that they get it right enough of the time in the present
role that they have. We are almost certain that they will not get it right given the volume of
material on the Internet. We would rather see a role for them as a watchdog that can actually
monitor the proceedings of the Internet and the information that is on the Internet so that
they can more readily deal with complaints, for example, about incorrect classifications.

Dr Baker—What we have suggested is not that the OFLC be disbanded, but that its role
be changed: that the media that it currently deals with move to some form of self-regulation
and classify their own material; and that the role of the OFLC be reduced to that of dealing
with material that is refused classification and to adjudicate on material that should be
refused classification. This is partly in recognition of the fact that most of the material on the
Internet is outside Australian jurisdiction and, regardless of what regulation regime we
establish in Australia, there does not seem to be any point in placing Australian content
under an Australian regulation regime if that is going to be more onerous than the sorts of
regulation regimes that exist elsewhere in the world.

Senator HARRADINE—Why not?

Dr Baker—For two reasons: firstly, it will put Australia at a disadvantage, as opposed to
the rest of the world; secondly, it will create a false expectation in the community that
content on the Internet is regulated. The vast majority of the content on the Internet will
never be regulated, particularly for as long as the United States maintains their first
amendment. Very little content that will be regulated in Australia will ever be regulated in
the United States—and for the present, certainly, and the foreseeable future, the US is going
to be the source of most of the content on the Internet, or a large proportion of it. We need
to come to terms with this fact that we cannot control the content of the Internet, unlike the
control that is exerted on other media in Australia. We need to learn to live with that and
find ways of dealing with it.

Electronic Frontiers Australia has been pushing for the last four years for some sort of
education campaign to be run to inform parents and teachers of the nature of the Internet and
what they can do to protect the children in their care. Forming some form of content
regulation that is specifically for Australian content will not protect children in Australia.
The other thing that is important to remember is that content is not the only danger that
children face on the Internet. Probably more important is the people they meet, and no
amount of content regulation will protect children from people. The only people that can
protect children from people are parents and teachers. Parents need to be provided with the
information and the knowledge and the wherewithal to be able to know how to protect their
children, and instituting some form of Australian content regulation will not do that.

Senator HARRADINE—You just mentioned to the committee that the OFLC should
play a role of monitoring and ensuring that refused classification material not be available.
Did I understand you correctly when you said that?

Dr Baker—Yes.

Senator HARRADINE—Then you said that if the American constitution and decisions
of the Supreme Court of the United States of America are as they have been previously, you
are going to have this sort of material readily available right throughout the world.

Dr Baker—Yes. We have also suggested that a very limited amount of material is very
widely acknowledged as not being desirable in the world. The only thing that falls—

Senator HARRADINE—By whom?

Dr Baker—By virtually every nation that has laws about content.

Senator HARRADINE—You are talking about on-line?

Dr Baker—I am talking about in any media. The one category that appears to have no
place in any country that has got legislation about any form of content is child pornography.

Senator HARRADINE—In Australia, sexually explicit violent material is a refused

Dr Baker—Yes.

Senator HARRADINE—There is a lot of that about in the United States and freely
available in the United States on-line.

Dr Baker—What we are saying is that to the extent that such material may be available
on the Internet there is no practical way of preventing that material from entering Australia
apart from cutting off the Internet in Australia from the Internet in the rest of the world.

Senator HARRADINE—Why? For example, with proxy ISPs you can have a situation
where you could have a hotline and when people come across this type of material they

Ms Aynsley—You could have hotlines to report the instances and occurrences of
material found on the Internet wherever it occurs—Australia or the rest of the world. That
will not prevent that material, when it exists somewhere on a computer somewhere in the
world, from getting to your computer if you go and look for it. It is like broadcasting in a
sense; if you turn the television on and something nasty is there you are going to see it.

Senator HARRADINE—I understand that. But action can be taken against the ISP.

Ms Aynsley—Why? What action?

Senator HARRADINE—The originator of the material.

Ms Aynsley—The content provider?

Senator HARRADINE—And the ISP.

Ms Aynsley—Why the ISP?

Senator HARRADINE—Why not?

Ms Aynsley—They are simply providing an infrastructure that allows it to get from point
A to point B, without knowledge of that.

Senator HARRADINE—That is what I am saying. I am talking about when they have
knowledge, when they are provided with the knowledge. Give them a certain amount of time
to contact the content provider and, if it is not done, then both are liable.

Ms Aynsley—Let us say it was content on a machine in America, say, on America
Online—a well-known service provider over there. I am not familiar with whether there are
any prohibitions in their terms and conditions, but let us assume that there are not, for the
exercise. If I was an Internet service provider and one of my users found that information on
the AOL machine, what would you expect me as the service provider in Australia to do,
knowing that this nasty, illegal stuff is out there?

Senator HARRADINE—What would you expect them to do? Would you expect them
to advise the content provider about it?

Ms Aynsley—No.

Senator HARRADINE—Why not?

Ms Aynsley—I would expect my user to go to the police and report the fact that they
believe there is illegal material on the Internet.

Senator HARRADINE—No, we are not talking about illegal material, necessarily.

Ms Aynsley—I thought we were.

Senator HARRADINE—No. You were saying the OFLC should be disbanded—that was
the word that you used.

Ms Aynsley—No, I do not think we said ‘disbanded’. We said their role should be
disbanded and they should be reduced to ensuring compliance.

Senator HARRADINE—It is a summary of your recommendations on page 2 that says
that the OFLC be disbanded and classification of all media currently under the office’s scope
become the right and responsibility of the relevant industry bodies.

Ms Aynsley—In our opening statement we suggested that perhaps they ought to have a
role as a watchdog of industry guidelines in a self-regulatory regime.

Senator HARRADINE—And, almost in the same breath, you said that television
industry self-regulation works well. I do not know whether you have been following the
evidence that has been given to us in respect of TV self-regulation.

Ms Aynsley—I noticed the evidence this morning from Young Media Australia. I guess
there are probably pockets of problems and the children’s arena was identified this morning
as one of them. But, on the whole, the infrastructure of self-regulation within the broadcast-ing
region works reasonably well. You said that is the report that you got from the minister,
that they see no problems with the—

Senator HARRADINE—I said it?

Ms Aynsley—I am sure you did.

Senator HARRADINE—I will have to wash my mouth out.

Ms Aynsley—I heard you say that, Senator.

Dr Baker—I think what you were saying, Senator, was that some representative from the
industry or the ABA—I forget which it was—had said that the scheme works well. You
were reporting that somebody else had said it.

Ms Aynsley—Yes, it was a report from someone else. You were not attributed with the
authorship, Senator.

CHAIR—I wonder whether you could tell the committee a little about your organisation:
how long you have been operating; whether you are a national organisation—it would appear
that you are; how are you financed; and, essentially, your role and function.

Ms Aynsley—We are a national organisation. In fact, Michael and I are two of the
founding members. Michael is the brains behind the foundation. The organisation was born
in Adelaide about four years ago, but we have always had national membership. We actually
have had board members in every capital city, including Darwin. We did have Hobart, but
the person there has moved on to other things, so we do not currently have a Tasmanian
board member. We meet regularly via the medium that we defend and protect—Internet
relay chat—on a monthly basis to discuss policy issues and develop the submissions that we
so often send to you for something to read in your spare time.

We have a range of members including Internet access providers, service providers,
content providers and lawyers. Our present chair is, as you probably know, a lawyer. We
have people from the university community who are largely Internet users. We reach the
broader Internet user through their participation in a news group we sponsor—and it is
several news groups—on Newsnet. We also publish a newsletter on a roughly quarterly

We do appearances at various forums. Our present chair was at the economic summit last
week in Canberra, and did some guest speaking at Monash University on his way home to
Perth. We provide people for such forums wherever we can. We also participated in a
number of committees—the gatekeeper project and the privacy committee that Centrelink is
currently sponsoring. I myself was on one whose name escapes me—community information,
I think—that was run, again by Social Security, a couple of years ago. We are fairly
pervasive. We also work within other organisations, such as those that are state based,
particularly the Internet associations, as well as the Internet Industry Association.

CHAIR—Your funding comes from your members?

Ms Aynsley—Totally self-funded. We took a policy stand not to accept funding except
from within our own membership.

CHAIR—I was interested to hear you say in your opening remarks that you believed
self-regulation operates effectively and successfully in the media, particularly in the
electronic media—and I think you referred to television specifically. Do I take it then that
you are happy with the effectiveness and efficiency of the complaints regime that is the
backbone of that self-regulation?

Ms Aynsley—I would have to say that I do not know enough to answer that question
about whether the complaints mechanism is sufficient. I have never made a complaint myself
about television content. I have opted for the off switch myself, but other people would want
to take things further. I do not know how effective that is. From listening to this
morning’s evidence, about 16 months to resolve a complaint seems a little long to me—quite
long, in fact.

CHAIR—Dr Baker, do you have any comment to make on the effectiveness of the codes
of practice and, in particular, the effectiveness of the complaints regime?

Dr Baker—Not on the effectiveness of the complaints regime—it is not an area that I
am familiar with. The main thing that we were talking about in effectiveness is in terms of
the classification, that to a large extent the classification appears to be what people expect.

Obviously, there are some complaints, and that is why there is a complaint mechanism. To a
large extent, I think the classification that the industry does on its own behalf is probably
similar to the sort of classification that the OFLC does. Obviously, there are differences
because of the different criteria that are used.

CHAIR—I notice in your submission that you recommend that the Privacy Act be over-hauled
and extended to include the private sector. Has your organisation formed a view on
the Privacy Commissioner’s national principles for fair handling of personal information?

Ms Aynsley—We attended the various fora around Australia—in Brisbane, I think, in
Adelaide and in Perth—and contributed to the discussions that went on there. The principles
framework, as far as it goes, I think we are favour of. The absence of the legislation is the
point that causes us great concern. Leaving it to the private sector to implement and police
its own privacy self-regulatory regime does not give us sufficient confidence that electronic
commerce can be facilitated, for example. Countries in Europe are adopting privacy
legislation and they will require us, in order to enter into partnerships of a commercial
nature, to have such a solid foundation, and that is just not apparent. It is not going to

CHAIR—President Clinton’s adviser on electronic commerce and other things—
information technologies—told an E-commerce meeting that he did not think there was one
single answer to the question of privacy in relation to the Internet but rather four or five
different segments coming together to form an attack on the difficulties arising from
electronic commerce. Do you have a similar view to that? Are you aware of that speech?

Ms Aynsley—Are you talking about Ira Magaziner?


Ms Aynsley—I am aware of the speech, but I am not really all that close to the contents.
I do not disagree. We have recognised two aspects: one is cryptography and the use of
cryptography in an E-commerce sense; the second is the privacy basis. The underpinning of
all E-commerce, to us, is the privacy legislation because, as I say, other countries that have
privacy legislation will choose not to interact with Australian businesses and individuals
without that same guarantee.

CHAIR—I am wondering if your organisation has had any input into the development of
the IIA draft code of practice for the Internet industry.

Ms Aynsley—Yes—been there, done that, many times since version 1. It is now on
version 3. Whilst we recognise and applaud version 3 as being a vast improvement on
version 2 or previous, it still has a great deal of problems for us because it attempts to
address the content issue. We hold very firmly, as you have probably gathered, that content
belongs with the content provider, not with the industry who are passing the content between
two or more points. We are still talking with IIA about the development of their code. We
input at every opportunity. We have a fairly good relationship with the executive director
and will continue to work with him.

I noted this morning that Toni Jupe, who is on the children’s task force with me,
mentioned that the Internet industry is very keen on content. I would have to say that the
industry is very keen on content as a result of the ABA’s on-line services report which said
that the Internet industry and codes of practice ought to address the content issue. I suspect
without that imperative the content issue would not have arisen within the context of a code
of practice.

CHAIR—Can either of you give me a view on what particular segments of the Austral-ian
population you believe are the greatest users of the Internet and who in particular in the
community, as either a group of individuals or as organisations, benefits most from Internet

Ms Aynsley—Do you mean having access to using the Internet?


Ms Aynsley—Higher education had it first, so I guess they are still the most numerous
and represent the most traffic—that is the university sector, the 38 universities. Education
departments of New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and the ACT, of course—they were
there first—and, to some extent, Western Australia, South Australia and the others are
coming on line at a reasonably fast rate now, particularly the eastern states. Tasmania has
been up there for quite a long time as well—it was one of the first. So I guess it is the
education sector, you would have to say—higher education, and now the secondary and
primary school levels are starting to use it.

My interactions with teachers in various locations indicate there is a vast array of
opinions on how—as teachers with a duty of care to the children—they access the Internet.
Other things being equal, and presuming they have got free access to the Internet in terms of
numbers of machines for kids, some will actually do a preparation and provide an intranet.
In other words, they will have already done the censoring and brought the information into
the local school environment, and then will allow the kids to access the product of that.

Others will say, ‘No; kids have got to learn how to respond appropriately to the information
that they are going to find throughout their whole lives on the Internet, so we’ll teach them
how to do that.’ And there is a range of responses in between those two, which are fairly far

CHAIR—In terms of individuals in the community who might have Internet, have you
formed a view on what those people would use the service for?

Ms Aynsley—As a professional, I provide Internet education and support to individuals.
My oldest customer is 80 and she uses the Internet as compensation for the fact that she is
riddled with arthritis and cannot get out very much so that is her means of communication.
She uses the Internet relay chat type of facilities where she can actually communicate via the
keyboard. She also finds a lot of information about her interests, of which there are a
number. She has relatives and friends around the world, and she uses that as a means of
writing letters to those people.

Other individuals or small businesses are starting to become aware of it as a marketing
tool. They are not really interacting. They really do not care whether it is on their computer
as long as they are out there because they know their competitors are out there with respect
to web and marketing material. For those that use it as an interactive medium, it is probably
still early days for electronic commerce purposes. Would you agree with that, Michael?

Dr Baker—Yes. I would also add that in the business area, certainly in the business I
am in which is software, I use it personally, not every day but quite frequently, to look for
things that I need for just supporting the job that I do. I actually go out and look for
information and obtain software, and so on, for use in the work that I do. It is probably more
prevalent in the software industry than other industries at the moment. But as the Internet
develops, more and more people in other industries, particularly people in design areas, will
be able to go onto the Internet and find information that they use in the products that they
are designing.

CHAIR—Are you aware of whether there is a section of the community, large or small,
that may use the Internet for reasons of access to pornography?

Ms Aynsley—The short answer is yes.

CHAIR—Would you have any estimate on how large that group might be?

Ms Aynsley—Very small. I am sure you have been told in the past a number of times
how much of the Internet is comprised of pornography. It is less than 10 per cent. I cannot
actually tell you what the percentage is, but the last I heard it was something like six per
cent of all web pages contained pornography of one degree or another. There would be a
dedicated core of people—the same people that would go to the newsagent and buy Hustler
or Penthouse, or whatever the other ones are; I do not buy them so I do not know. I do not
think it would vary from the normal distribution curve within the community at large.

CHAIR—So you would disagree that a significant economic benefit of having the
Internet connections in Australia is access to international pornography?

Ms Aynsley—The economic benefit is to that overseas company, presumably.


Ms Aynsley—The ISP rounding traffic? They do not typically charge for downloads, at
least not in South Australia, so it does not matter whether you are going to a pornographic
site or to the zoological gardens on-line.

Senator QUIRKE—It has been put to us that a significant number of people wish to
view pornography and, therefore, they would constitute a fairly substantial client base for the
Internet subscribers, whatever the ISPs or the organisations that provide the air time. It has
been suggested to us that it is a significant part of their business.

Dr Baker—We do not have any facts on that to hand. I think that it is something that
we could probably investigate and ask questions about, and we could probably find out
whether there are any surveys that have been done.

Senator QUIRKE—I just wondered what your response to it was.

CHAIR—It would be useful if you did have any information on it if you could supply it
to the committee.

Senator HARRADINE—Where did you get those 10 per cent and six per cent figures

Ms Aynsley—All I said is that it is less than 10 per cent because I am not sure what the
figure is. I was told that it was six per cent of web sites.

Senator HARRADINE—You were told. Has there been a survey done?

Ms Aynsley—There is information on the Internet about almost all of these sorts of

Senator HARRADINE—On how many web sites there are?

Ms Aynsley—Yes.

Senator HARRADINE—I know that there is information about that, but how many of
those web sites are devoted to the porn industry, are porn web sites, and how many hits are
there, et cetera, for each of the sites?

Ms Aynsley—I could not give you an address off the top of my head, Senator.

Senator HARRADINE—I understand that. The chair is really asking the direct question,
I think, about not only the number of web sites but also the percentage of those that are
devoted to the porn industry and, maybe, the number of hits that are made.

Ms Aynsley—When you say ‘porn industry’, it understates the nature of the Internet.

Senator HARRADINE—I am talking about web pages.

Ms Aynsley—I know you are. But you are saying the ‘porn industry’ as if it were
something you belonged to by virtue of the way you make your living. Pornography
publishers and pornography content providers are clearly not part of the pornography
industry. In fact, someone was telling me recently about a person who has a very profession-al
day job but also moonlights in providing pornographic images. I think the person, who is
a lawyer or a dentist during the day, is providing strip shows at night on the Internet. I will
give you the address later if you want it, Senator. So, to clarify terms, are we talking about
publishers of pornography or are we talking about the industry?

Senator HARRADINE—No, I am talking about publishers.

Ms Aynsley—You are not talking about professional pornography publishers, necessarily.
You are talking about anybody who provides images, or whatever.

Senator HARRADINE—Yes, that is what the chair was asking.

Ms Aynsley—We will take it on board and we will try to get the secretary—

CHAIR—It would be useful for the committee, in relation to other evidence that we
have received, to have a yardstick to measure that evidence by.

Senator HARRADINE—On the question of interactive games on-line, would you have
some idea of the growth of that area?

Ms Aynsley—They are very popular. There are a number of South Australian service
providers, for example, who provide their own Quake as one of the games that is on offer.
That reduces cost and increases speed and all those sorts of advantages. They are growing at
a very rapid rate.

Senator HARRADINE—It would be interesting to see how many of those were
interactive violent games that would not be classified by the OFLC, or interactive porn
games which would not be classified by the OFLC.

Ms Aynsley—I am not aware of the second case. In the first case, the ones that I am
aware of are already classified as computer games by the OFLC and have migrated into the
Internet environment. They are the ones I am referring to.

Senator HARRADINE—Could you, perhaps, take that on notice?

Ms Aynsley—Yes.

Dr Baker—I do not know that we will be able to find out anything about that, but if we
can, we will let you know.

Ms Aynsley—We will feed it back to you.

Senator HARRADINE—Thank you. There is a need to have confidence, isn’t there,
amongst parents and others about material coming into the home environment? If the public,
for example, were starting to be very concerned about material of this kind coming over on-line
into the home and being easily accessed by teenagers, doesn’t that raise questions about
the credibility or integrity of the net in the minds of those people, rightly or wrongly?

Dr Baker—I do not think so. Surveys that have been conducted of Internet users, as
opposed to surveys of the population at large, show that content is not one of the major
concerns of Internet users.

Senator HARRADINE—Yes, I am aware of that.

Dr Baker—The issues they are more concerned about are things such as privacy.

Senator HARRADINE—Or being slow.

Dr Baker—Yes, the slowness.

Senator HARRADINE—If you are asking me—

Ms Aynsley—The performance issues—

Dr Baker—Yes, performance issues. In terms of issues that governments might be more
concerned with, privacy tends to be of far greater concern than content. Again, I do not have
to hand any of the surveys, but I am sure that I can find some of these surveys—

Senator HARRADINE—We have been provided with some of those. Your main
membership comprises of ISPs—

Ms Aynsley—No, not at all.

Dr Baker—They are individuals.

Senator HARRADINE—But you would have a number of ISPs, wouldn’t you?

Dr Baker—Some of our members work for ISPs, but we do not have any ISPs as
businesses that are members.

Ms Aynsley—In fact, our only corporate member is the PCU group out of Canberra,
isn’t it?

Dr Baker—Yes.

CHAIR—Thank you very much, Dr Baker and Ms Aynsley. Your answers have been very
informative. We would appreciate any of the extra information that you can provide to the
committee in due course. Thank you.

Proceedings suspended from 12.56 p.m. to 2.11 p.m.

HEITMAN, Mr Kimberley James, Spokesperson, Western Australian Internet Association
Incorporated, 1/38 Mason Street, Cannington, Western Australia 6107

CHAIR—Welcome. The committee prefers all evidence to be given in public but you
may at any time request that your evidence, part of your evidence or answers to specific
questions be given in camera—which means in private—and the committee will consider any
such request. The committee has before it submission No. 13, dated 6 January 1998. Are
there any additions or alterations that you would like to make to the submission at this

Mr Heitman—No, thank you. I would just like to make a few points about the association.

CHAIR—The committee has already authorised the publication of your submission
under a separate volume. I will now invite you to speak to the committee and at the
conclusion of your remarks we will ask you some questions.

Mr Heitman—The purpose of my appearance today, and I appreciate the opportunity of
doing so, is to put before the committee the Western Australian experience, which has been
quite different from that in the other states and territories of Australia. One of the important
things about Western Australia is that quite early in this debate we focused on what could be
achieved by Internet service providers within Western Australia both to address community
and consumer concerns in relation to the provision of Internet content and also to make sure
there was a proper legal framework under which Internet service providers could act. It was
very important for the industry locally to be happy that it knew what the rules and laws were
relating to the provision of Internet access.

The Western Australian Internet Association was set up in the middle of 1995 almost as
a direct response to the Department of Communications and the Arts report on the regulation
of bulletin boards. It was a response to that report that galvanised the local Internet industry
into seeking, firstly, to form an association of both service providers and Internet users and,
secondly, to lobby the government of Western Australia and the federal government to try to
determine rules for Internet content that the industry could work with and that the users were
happy to accept.

In Western Australia the WA Internet Association is quite prominent in the debate. We
have regular and direct contact with the Western Australian government, and WAIA has a
seat on the information industries working group that was established through the Depart-ment
of Commerce and Trade in Western Australia. That allows us input into government
policy at a high level.

We have also had the opportunity during the drafting of the Western Australian Censor-ship
Act to have input prior to the draft being presented to parliament and have discussions
with the office of the state censor to establish what rules of conduct were appropriate for the
Internet as opposed to other media. As a member of what I would consider to be quite a
strong and vibrant organisation, notwithstanding that we are geographically located only in
Western Australia, I am inviting the committee to examine the Western Australian experi-ence
to see whether it can provide lessons for the rest of the country.

CHAIR—Before we go to questions could you tell us a bit about your organisation: how
long ago it was established; the number of members; how it is funded; how often you meet;
and the role and function of the organisation?

Mr Heitman—The organisation was established at a public meeting in July 1995. We
then went through the process of incorporating under the Western Australian Associations
Incorporation Act to be established as a non-profit organisation with its own legal identity.
The requirements for that were completed in November 1995. At present the WA Internet
Association has approximately 150 members, of which 14 are Internet service providers.
Those Internet service providers represent companies such OzEmail, Iinet, omen, Wantree
and others within Western Australia. We probably represent about 50 per cent of the
commercial accounts available in Western Australia.

Our funding comes entirely from membership subscriptions and we have a rising scale
for several categories of membership, from a user membership which is $20 per year, and
therefore within the realms of most people, up to Internet service provider membership
which is $500 a year and carries the obligation to comply with the WAIA code of conduct.

Senator HARRADINE—Mr Heitman, you mentioned in your introductory comments
that your association has been able to have input at the highest level in Western Australia on
policy. Are you happy about that?

Mr Heitman—I think it is appropriate that the government of Western Australia has
taken advice in the new areas of Internet regulation. There are a number of technical issues
which are difficult to comprehend if you are using the paradigms of the broadcasting or the
publishing industries and therefore it has been useful, I submit, for members of the Internet
industry to be able to give input to government at that sort of level. At this stage our input is
given very much alongside that of the other information industries, such as content providers,
infrastructure and hardware vendors and so forth. So we are part of the information
industries as opposed to a private brief.

Senator HARRADINE—The outcome in terms of regulation and legislation is satisfac-tory
to you?

Mr Heitman—The industry finds the present regime in Western Australia satisfactory
with just two exceptions. The first is that, owing to cooperation between the state and federal
governments concerning the uniform approach to content regulation, we have not been able
to persuade the Western Australian government to allow the gazetting of our code of conduct
as a recognised industry code, and that has been while the rest of the country is grappling
with the same issues.

The second point on which there is some debate within the local industry is the degree of
cooperation in line with the level at which content regulation is set. There was, for example,
a thought that the Office of Film and Literature Classification would be moving quickly on
Internet classification, whereas at this stage it does not appear that the OFLC has moved or
will move on that.

Senator HARRADINE—What is your association’s view about that?

Mr Heitman—The position is that we would really prefer Internet illegal material to be
a yes and no question rather than a question of ratings and classifications which may be
subject to individual interpretation, so that ultimately the OFLC’s role in classification is not
considered to be worth pursuing. The sorts of ratings for films and videos do not translate
well to Internet content. I will comment on the matter of convergence shortly but for the
time being Internet content really does defy rating in the way that videos can be rated. For
that reason we would prefer instead for the Commonwealth perhaps to set the guidelines of
what represents unlawful transmission, to clarify the situation under the Crimes Act section
85ZE but otherwise for there to be no federal classification of the Internet content planned. It
would be an Internet illegal standard, which is quite different from any other rating standards
to be adopted.

Senator HARRADINE—Did you hear Young Media Australia’s evidence this morning?

Mr Heitman—Yes, I listened with much interest. I am appreciative of their efforts in
that particular field.

Senator HARRADINE—You are aware of their concern that many parents of children,
whether they be young children or teenagers, do not realise what is on the Internet. I took
that to mean that many of the children were more capable and able to operate far more
effectively on the Internet than their parents.

Mr Heitman—This is a common experience, but not a uniform experience, Senator.

WAIA has tried to approach the problem from the other way. In the absence of any capacity
to make the Internet safe in the sense that many parents would like it to be safe for children,
we have tried instead to focus on the point of delivery, which is the home itself, to make
parents aware, firstly, of what is available on the Internet and, secondly, what preventative
tools they may use, including software and hardware blocks, to limit the children’s exposure
to this material.

We have done this in two ways. Firstly, we are running free weekly seminars for the
public so people can come along and learn about the Internet and what is there. We quite
explicitly take them through all of the tools available for the Internet, not just the World
Wide Web. I think there has been too much concentration on the World Wide Web. The
really bad material is not being distributed mostly through the World Wide Web. It is being
distributed through Internet Relay Chat or by file transfer or by what might be called
Sneakernet, which is the distribution of CD-ROMs and floppy discs after contact has been
made on the Internet. So we are focusing on all the dangers to children, not just the obvious
pictorial dangers.

Secondly, we have been making sure that people who are interested in developing
strategies within their own homes or schools are given the best and most current information
on the rating and labelling schemes which exist and the software which relies on those rating
and labelling schemes. As I mentioned when WAIA appeared before the committee which
preceded this one, we are not yet confident that the ratings and labelling schemes are
developed to the extent that they can be part of a legal framework. The reason for this is that
they do not achieve the outcomes that they are seeking to. Therefore, we feel very strongly
that to place them within law at this time is premature. I am thinking particularly in terms of
the use of software filter programs, such as Net Nanny.

Nonetheless, it is important that the public is aware of the state of maturity of those
programs. It is part of WAIA’s task to inform the public of those software programs which
are available and our particular recommendations on their use. For example, some are more
effective when other strategies are employed simultaneously.

Senator HARRADINE—Do you have anything further to say about those programs? We
have been given information that they are somewhat limited.

Mr Heitman—Their limitations are so poor, Senator, that it is really difficult to
appreciate how little they do until you compare them with the statistics of the total web. For
example, it is considered at this stage that there may be upwards of 150 million web sites on
the Internet. The very best of the software programs block 30,000 of those sites. I think it is
beyond doubt that the vast majority of the content available out there which people may find
controversial or which individual state and federal governments may find illegal is not being
blocked by these programs. The second aspect of them is that information which is blocked
with the programs cannot be verified or checked by the users. As a result, once you install
such a program, you do not know what you are blocking and why. There have been some
very unfortunate outcomes, such as the National Organisation of Women being a blocked site
or the word ‘queer’ being routinely blocked or the words ‘Virginia’ or ‘Saturday’, and many
other sorts of words, simply because of a kludgey, text based filter system.

I do not, as a parent, let alone as someone who has some expertise in the Internet area,
recommend their use for unsupervised Internet access by children. At the end of the day,
they are nothing more than a barrier to an unsophisticated child. For a sophisticated child,
they are no barrier at all and may, in fact, give a false sense of security in a school or a

CHAIR—Are you suggesting that a sophisticated child might see that opportunity as a
great challenge?

Mr Heitman—Anecdotally, we hear even worse. There is something of a cottage
industry among secondary school students. For a fee of $5 or so, they will disable the Net
Nanny on the home computers of their friends. This is the trouble. The Internet treats
censorship as if it was something broken and easily routes around it. For example, if you are
blocked in one particular web server which has Net Nanny attached to it, it is a matter of
absolute simplicity to download another web browser program and completely circumvent it.
If every single web site was blocked at the ISP level, as they attempted and failed to do in
China, under those circumstances the information would simply pass over IRC or by file
transfer in an absolutely seamless operation.

One of the difficulties we have is whether or not software labelling and rating are
mandated by government legislation or by industry code of practice. They will have the same
outcome: no impact on the global Internet, high impact on Australian service providers. As a
member of the industry, it is that disparity I am seeking the Senate committee to take into
account in its recommendations. No matter what is done at an Australian level, the material
on the global Internet will be unchanged.

The PICS and RSAC-I system is the one that has been promoted strongly by the
Australian Broadcasting Authority as a model for future browsing. I have a lot of trouble
with that system in that it rates text as if it were an image and rates images without any
context, so we have the situation where the Department of Anatomy and the Louvre and
pornography are all rated the same for nudity. I think that is very misleading.

The second aspect is that RSAC-I is simply losing the race for rating. Their web site has
not been updated for 14 months, which is not a good sign for an Internet site. In any event,
they said at that stage they had rated 50,000 sites and were rating approximately 5,000 sites
per week. My best and most recent information on the number of web sites on the Internet
was updated at the E-Commerce Summit two weeks ago. It was there that sites were being
put on-line at the rate of 10,000 per day. If rating was a compelling strategy, unfortunately
we have the situation where it is losing the race internationally. At this stage, less than one
per cent of the total content available on the Internet is rated under that system. I would
suggest that it is losing the race, day by day. I think to make that the cornerstone of
Australian regulation is a very bad policy move.

CHAIR—I take it you were a delegate at the E-Commerce Summit?

Mr Heitman—Yes, a participant.

CHAIR—Would you have any comment to make on Ira Magaziner’s speech and the
suggestions that he made for a basket of measures to ensure that the Internet could be
modified for families?

Mr Heitman—He has the American experience which, of course, is quite different from
ours. In Australia, parliament has the right to abridge free speech as it thinks fit. That is the
context all of the people addressing this committee must appreciate. He recommended the
light-handed approach on the basis that that is more likely to be successful. He gave the
example of an Internet tax. An Internet tax on purchases made over the Internet at the rate of
one per cent will quite probably be complied with. If it is set at a rate of 30 per cent, then
people will take steps to evade it. The same thing may be true of Internet content.

Right now we have, informally, a very good system for reportage on child pornography
in the sense that, once it becomes known to the authorities in any state in Australia, it is
reported to the appropriate jurisdiction where that content is actually being hosted. As a
result, Australia has played a part in the cracking of international rings. However, if you
contact Interpol and say there is what might be considered non-violent erotica available in
America or in Finland or wherever, they will tell you that they cannot be bothered. They do
not have the resources to deal with merely controversial content. They wish to focus only on
the narrow range of criminal content, such as child pornography.

As a result, when you are prosecuting Internet content, if you keep the range of materials
prosecuted as narrow as possible, it will be far more successful than trying to rate everything
that you would want to rate for 6 p.m. television. As a result, if you concentrate on Internet
illegal material—and I would suggest that child pornography is the classic case, but certainly
sadism and other degrading pornography might be considered for international cooperation—
under those circumstances there is a real chance of making content regulation work. If,
however, we say to the rest of the world, ‘You must rate by Australian standards,’ we will
be a laughing stock.

CHAIR—To what extent would you see pornography as being an active part of the
Australian Internet industry?

Mr Heitman—I think it is an important part of the growth of the industry in the sense
that the technological advances for e-commerce have manifested themselves first in the pay
sites, such as the pornographic sites. Many of the protocols for secure financial transactions
have commenced by reason of people subscribing to American based pay pornographic

But it has to be noted that the pay pornographers are very much in the minority on the
Internet. It is not an important part of the Australian Internet at all, and as a result we have
the situation where the suggestion that it constitutes an important part of Internet commerce
in Australia, I think, is incorrect.

I did note the question that was put to the earlier speakers about the suggestion that the
provision of pornographic services is part and parcel of the ISP’s growth and therefore that
the ISP industry has an interest in promoting pornography for commercial reasons. With
respect, I think that is something of a smear. It is as if to say that people buy a telephone
line so they can make abusive phone calls. I think that is quite false.

Certainly, I think there are a lot of people in the community who like the idea of the
biggest library in the world and the ability to talk to any person on any subject. But to
whittle that down to a quest for pornography, I think, is a smear.

CHAIR—We put it to the previous witness because it had been put to us by previous
witnesses that access to pornography on an international scale actually underwrites the
success and growth of the Internet industry in Australia.

Mr Heitman—I would think exactly the opposite, as a matter of fact, because pornogra-phy
does tend to be high bandwidth, and this is one of the things which is a very important
aspect of Internet life. From an ISP’s point of view, he would like to have lots and lots of
customers who do nothing but send e-mail, because that is the least pressing on the band-width
that he buys from Telstra. If, however, many people are accessing United States
pornography sites and downloading lots of data, that is being paid for by the ISP at not less
than 19c per megabyte. As a result, the downloading of pornography from overseas is not in
the ISP’s financial interests at all.

However, this is touching on the convergence issue, because it has been suggested that
one of the reasons we have to get the ground rules right now is that in times to come the
Internet will deliver services we presently obtain through newspapers, radio and TV. I would
just like to inject a note of scepticism with that proposition, because one thing that it does
not take into account is the vast difference between the radio bandwidth available to TV and
radio, and the fairly narrow bandwidth allowed through the copper wires which make up our
telephone service.

For example, to transmit video takes 2.2 million bytes per second. Most people on the
Internet in Australia are operating across telephone lines which are really only rated for, say,
28,000 bytes per second. As a result, we have the situation where, even though the technol-ogy
exists and it is plausible that there be video coming through the Internet, as a matter of
sheer bandwidth and the sort of access that people have in Australia it will be many years
before anybody has Internet access that fast.

Right now we have the situation where video sent across the Internet is like smoke
signals; it is a very unreliable sort of technology. Even recently when some Australian
webcam services provided a fixed camera position of, for example, the Gay and Lesbian
Mardi Gras march, you would get perhaps five seconds of video and then 30 seconds of
hand shaking while they tried to re-establish the connection.

Across the Australian telephone system, wide-band communications are just not possible.
In the future perhaps we will all be cabled, but at this stage the cable roll-out is not that fast
or that swift and it is not that cheap. For the time being I think you can take the Internet as
being, in its classic case, e-mail and web services rather than video.

CHAIR—If you were to define the three major challenges facing your organisation
operating within this emerging environment, what would you define those to be?

Mr Heitman—Our organisation is trying to promote the Internet, both for the interests
of the industry and the users, and we are unique in that; we do acknowledge that we have
the left hand and the right hand of this. What we are trying to do is, firstly, establish the
Internet as being accessible by all Australians. For that end we are hoping to see some
cooperation with government for the opening up of public facilities for this purpose, such as
Australia Post offices, which have a presence in many rural areas which are not well
serviced by private industry, and such as the Centrelink service being extended through the
use of kiosks and such like. So public access would be the first issue.

The second most important issue is the interplay between privacy and security. There is
no doubt that people out there would love to do business on the Internet if only they thought
they were able to do so in full privacy and with full security. Therefore, there needs to be
policy made by federal government on those two issues.

Finally, what I would like to see more of on the Internet is more Australian content.
What we really have to encourage are people operating value added services. At the moment
we have a lot of amateur web pages or small business web pages which are embryos of good
things to come. What we would like to see are a lot more content providers so that the rest
of the world is paying us for information and not the other way around.

CHAIR—I thought you might have mentioned the effectiveness of a complaints mecha-nism.
Do you have any comments on the effectiveness and efficiency of the existing
complaints regimes? And what role is your organisation playing in the development of that

Mr Heitman—Thank you for that question. It is very important for people to have
confidence in the new industry. It starts off from the Telecommunications Act, which sets
upon ISPs certain privacy requirements under the new sections so that the people can be sure
that the ISP is not going to be giving away their details willy-nilly. That is already in place.
Secondly, in relation to complaints about consumer issues, the Telecommunications
Industry Ombudsman has a statutory role. But I am also pleased to say that the WA Internet
Association has a more effective and, from what I have heard today, a much speedier
resolution mechanism. As a board member and one who is on the discipline committee, I
have a lot to do with the complaints that are made to WAIA based on consumer issues—
exclusively consumer issues, I might say—and our way of responding to them. We have yet
to fail to settle a matter completely within seven days.

The report has usually been sent out within 24 hours to the various stakeholders in an
argument to try to find position statements and to resolve them. I really think there is no
government department that could work with that speed. The advantage of it is that we have
the situation where, if there is a matter of concern by a WAIA member, the process can be
activated by either a member of the association as complainant or a member of the associa-tion
as the person against whom the complaint is made. So we have a situation where we are
quite prepared to arbitrate with the general public.

So far, we have yet to have a matter where a mediation has not solved the problem
within seven days. However, the mediation is not enforced on the parties. If they are
dissatisfied with it we have the back-up of an arbitration system we have arranged with the
University of Notre Dame law school. What they will do is provide law staff to help take the
step to a hearing, if required. We are pretty satisfied that we can handle anything the TIO
could handle or, indeed, the ABA. Bear in mind that we have yet to receive a complaint
about content from any member of the public, and as a—

CHAIR—What sorts of issues would you get complaints about typically? Could you take
us through a case study?

Mr Heitman—Indeed. Perhaps the best example we have had recently is a person who
had troubles with the Internet service—it had been losing carrier—and, as a result, his
Internet experience was confined to a few minutes at a time. He contacted the ISP and was
talked through the configurations over the telephone. Amongst the things that changed was
the telephone number for contacting the ISP. The user lived in an outer suburb. As a
consequence, all phone calls brought under the new number attracted a community call rate,
which is a little less than STD but nonetheless more than a local call and a timed call. As a
result, the complaint was brought to the WAIA committee by an e-mail sent to the commit-tee
list—all our details are on our web site; that is how we get our complaints usually—to
say, ‘I have just got a Telstra bill for $240. I think the ISP should have told me this was
coming. Therefore, I want a refund of this money.’

I took the complaint and, as a consequence, I contacted the ISP and said, ‘This is the
issue that this consumer has raised with us. I would like you to address this consumer’s
concerns and get back to me within 24 hours.’ The ISP did so and said, ‘After discussing the
matter with our consultant, it is possible, if not probably, that that advice was given,
therefore what we will do is give the man six months free access,’ which amounts to
practically the same sort of bill. Therefore, that was considered their proposal for settlement.
I put that to the consumer and he said, ‘Yes. That is fine by me.’ Case closed. We were in
and out of that one within three days.

At other times we have had complaints about, for example, interruptions to service due to
technical faults and problems. Probably where we were most useful a little while back was
when an Internet service provider went bankrupt suddenly and as a result administrators were
called in. The WA Internet Association got in touch with the administrators straightaway
and, very quickly, one of our members was able to negotiate with the administrators to take
over the member’s database so that the whole ISP and their 300 or 400 members were able
to be looked after straightaway. That is the sort of thing we, as an industry association, like
to do and we like to do it within a week by e-mail.

CHAIR—That is very impressive. On the sorts of complaints, could you give us how
many complaints you might typically get in, say, a month? You have given us a couple of
good case studies there, but what sorts of categories would they fall into—the sorts of
categories like quality of service?

Mr Heitman—We have had less than a dozen in 2½ years.

CHAIR—My goodness!

Mr Heitman—And they have all been over consumer issues. There was one issue where
a user was upset that he had been kicked off a system for what the ISP considered to be

One of the things we are also doing at this stage is drafting, in consultation with other
ISPs and also with the Internet community, a draft Internet service contract which will be
one step below a code of practice. It is actually the contract between the user and the ISP.
The object of the exercise will be to state, ‘This is what abuse means. This is what your
download means. This is what you are required to do to be a person in good standing on this
system. These are the references for what constitutes illegal conduct. This is a reference for
parental tools and help. This is a reference for your obligations under the Censorship Act.’

CHAIR—Committee members might find that a useful document to look at.
Mr Heitman—Yes. It is a work in progress. I would be pleased to give you our first
draft. I will e-mail that as soon as I return to Perth.

CHAIR—That is very good. I am very impressed by that. I think that is the first
reference we have had to a document like that, so it would be very useful for us to have a
look at it.

Mr Heitman—At this stage in the industry it is quite often the case that there is a
written term and agreement, but many of them are not satisfactory from a user’s point of
view because they contain clauses such as, ‘The ISP may suspend the user at any time for
any reason.’ This was considered at one stage to be a necessary precaution to stop people
putting on pornography and that sort of thing. But because in Western Australia that is
proscribed—the law tells us what is allowed and what is not—we are at least in the situation
where there is no real borderline there. The WAIA code of conduct says that if material on
an ISP site is illegal, then it is removed. That is simply all there is to it. The question
relating to what we do in borderline cases never arises. It is either certified as illegal or it is
not certified as illegal.

Senator HARRADINE—By ‘illegal’, what do you mean?

Mr Heitman—‘Illegal’ meaning a law enforcement officer says, ‘Take it off; it’s illegal.’
We are typically dealing here with matters which are unlawful to possess under Western
Australian law. That constitutes the offensive material set forth under the Censorship Act
1996. It includes child pornography, violence, scatology, bestiality, and all the things that
you would consider to be similar to refused classification, but as specifically defined under
the Western Australian act. So offensive material as defined in the Censorship Act iss where
we draw the line.

Senator HARRADINE—Are you saying that the ISP is responsible for the content

Mr Heitman—Once it is on his system, yes. But we have the situation where the
complaint is, ‘I accessed this material from a site in Finland.’ The answer is, ‘I’m sorry;
you’ll have to take it up with the site in Finland. We don’t have the capacity to do anything
about anything outside of our own system.’ Our code is very clear on that. It is the parts of
the system which are under the ISP’s control where the ISP is responsible. It is the parts of
the Internet outside the ISP’s control that the ISP cannot directly interact with. For example,
there are technical reasons why some sites cannot even be physically blocked by a refused
access list, and certainly not all of the sites that are contentious or controversial could be

Senator HARRADINE—Mr Heitman, let me get this very clear: are you talking only
about material that is refused classification?

Mr Heitman—No. I am referring to material which is specifically unlawful under the
Western Australian act. That does not necessarily coincide with the refused classification
federal category.

Senator HARRADINE—How?

Mr Heitman—The refused classification federal category, for example, does not admit to
a scientific or academic exception. For example, the material which is permitted under
federal law is not exactly the same as that which is banned under the state law. I am
referring specifically to the exception under the Censorship Act Western Australia, which
permits findings of fact to be made as to whether material which would otherwise, by
category, be refused classification, but nonetheless has an academic or scientific reason to be
available. A good example would be trauma studies within the Department of Anatomy
which would be potentially the most horrendous material out of context, but in a medical
context and in a scientific context it is vital information for the practitioners.

Senator HARRADINE—But, by and large, in the area of, let us say, computer games,
the OFLC has refused classification to types of computer games which are available on the

Mr Heitman—I believe that to be the case, but the computer games which are the most
concern to Western Australian ISPs are the ones which are quite legal. They are just
consumers of Internet resources. It is the Quake type of games which are legal in Australia
which are the ones that have the most prominence and give us the most concern. I am
unaware from any of the ISPs, and certainly from any complaint at any stage, as to the
availability of so-called ‘adult games’ on-line. They may be out there along with everything
else, but they are not considered locally to be a problem.

CHAIR—There are no further questions. Thank you for coming over and giving us the
benefit of your knowledge. Obviously, it is a very effective organisation that you are
operating in Western Australia.

Mr Heitman—We are trying our best, Senator, the point being that we did realise in
1995 that, if the industry did nothing at all, then we would be faced with a legitimate
criticism that we are not cleaning up our own act. However, bear in mind that we do also
ask that you take into account where we have drawn the line because, for technical and
ethical reasons, we believe that a light-handed approach works better than to try and ban all
material in all circumstances. I invite consideration of my submission. Of course, we are on-line
at all times.

CHAIR—We look forward to receiving that e-mail note when you get it to draft

Mr Heitman—Certainly.

CHAIR—Thank you very much indeed.