Saturday, July 24, 2010
Australian Attorney General Robert McClelland Says "No Free Speech For Racists" As He Prepares For U.S. Security And Terrorism Summit
This tidbit was discovered on The Phora. In one of his last speeches before departing to the United States for a summit with the Attorney Generals of Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and the U.S., Australian Attorney General Robert McClelland warned that there could be no free speech for "racists".
In a speech delivered at a cyber-racism summit in Sydney, McClelland said the Australian Federal government was tackling the difficult world of cyber-bullying and online protection of children. He said cyber-racism was a growing area of concern for the Human Rights Commission. Eighteen per cent of racism complaints handed to the Commission in 2008-09 were about racist internet material, up from nine per cent in the previous year. Consequently, McClelland proposed that it may well be appropriate to set some limitation to public expression of hateful material.
Although McClelland acknowledged that freedom of expression is a human right that is enjoyed by all Australians and must be protected, he insisted that the right to freedom of expression should not derogate from the rights of people to be treated with equality, dignity and respect.
Although a member of the Australian Labor Party, Robert McClelland hasn't gone completely round the bend. In February 2008, McClelland stated that it was unacceptable that the ACT government, which is proposing to allow same-sex couples to enter into unions, would give the right to hold public ceremonies to celebrate their unions. So even if he doesn't respect free speech, he still does respect traditional marriage.
But McClelland is at the center of another free-speech controversy. The federal government has censored approximately 90 per cent of a secret document outlining its controversial plans to snoop on Australians' web surfing, obtained under freedom of information (FoI) laws, out of fear the document could cause "premature unnecessary debate". The government has been consulting with the internet industry over the proposal, which would require ISPs to store certain internet activities of all Australians - regardless of whether they have been suspected of wrongdoing - for law enforcement agencies to access. All parties to the consultations have been sworn to secrecy.
Industry sources have claimed that the controversial regime could go as far as collecting the individual web browsing history of every Australian Internet user, a claim denied by the spokesman for Attorney-General Robert McClelland. The Attorney-General's Department legal officer, FoI and Privacy Section, Claudia Hernandez, wrote in her decision in releasing the highly censored document that the release of some sections of it "may lead to premature unnecessary debate and could potentially prejudice and impede government decision making".
Hernandez said that the material in question related to information the department was "currently weighing up and evaluating in relation to competing considerations that may have a bearing on a particular course of action or decision...More specifically, it is information concerning the development of government policy which has not been finalised, and there is a strong possibility that the policy will be amended prior to public consultation," she wrote.
While this controversial program is aimed primarily at screening out porn and terrorist websites, some legitimate political sites have been caught up as well.