One time I wish I wasn’t right

May 11, 2009 — 12 Comments

The Register: Aussie censors implement six degrees of separation policy

This article received massive attention overseas since it was published late last week, including top of Reddit and Digg. It notes that EFA received a link deletion notice for “linking to a link to allegedly harmful content.”

The crux confirms a concept I mentioned in Crikey March 20, although in that case I referred to Google links (however noted the 6 degrees of separation theory, saying

Here?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s the catch: if the Google search results are declared prohibited content (which they should be if ACMA is to apply the law evenly to all sites), linking to those search results would also be illegal. Any site linking to the search results becomes illegal, and any sites linking to the sites linking to the search results become illegal ?¢‚Ǩ¬¶ and sometime next year, every site on the internet is illegal in Australia because of the Government?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s crusade to save us all from the things they don?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t like.

In a later column, I noted that Google was bizarrely exempt, but noted the idea was still the same: linking to a site that links to something that is RC, is in breach of the Act.

The story also runs counter to the claims by Kim Holburn that the proposition that linking to a page that links to RC isn’t illegal.

It’s worst nightmare stuff, and in this case I wish I wasn’t right, and Kim Holburn was.

The unanswered question though is how far is ACMA going to take the link to a link policy? For example, if the EFA was hosted in the United States, would linking to the EFA who linked to the link to the RC then become subject to a takedown notice and/ or fine? (yes, that’s a tongue twister, but that’s part of the point on how stupid this is.)

That’s the perilous question. We’ve gone past direct linking, but how far will it now go down the chain? Could half the internet, or more one day be RC according to ACMA?