Government holds the line on ACTA talks

Powered by SC Magazine
 

No safe harbour for universities, search engines and web hosts.

The Federal Government has no plans to extend the shelter of 'safe harbour' to Australia's universities, search engines, web hosts and other network providers to protect them from prosecution over the actions of their subscribers.

Today, some 40 attendees from Government departments such as the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the Attorney General's department, the department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and IP Australia, plus universities, lawyers and representatives from various trade associations met in Canberra to discuss concerns over the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).

Various lobby groups were in attendance. The Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) and Music Industry Piracy Investigations (MIPI) spoke in support of the ACTA effort, while the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) and Internet Industry Association (IIA) expressed concern.

The IIA said signing of ACTA - or a successful appeal in the case AFACT has lodged against ISP iiNet - could expose network providers to significant risks. Under current Australian law, only 'carriage service providers' (telcos and ISPs) have a right to safe harbour protection.

The IIA specifically asked whether the generic definition of an "online service provider" - as stated under ACTA - would compel the Government to change its domestic laws to offer safe harbour to universities, search engines and web hosts.

Government officials reiterated that there was "no intention of changing Australian law" to harmonise with ACTA, the same line it uses to calm concerns that signing the treaty will encroach on the private rights of citizens.

Transparency

Today's briefing was the first time the Australian Government has invited the industry to discuss the international ACTA negotiations, which have to date been held behind closed doors.

"The Government was in a listening mood," said IIA communications director, John Hilvert, after leaving the meeting. "Whilst they didn't give anything away, at least they were there to listen."

At the meeting, intermediaries from both the physical (freight forwarders) and virtual (ISPs and other network providers) worlds expressed concern over whether ACTA would require them to screen every package arriving on Australian shores to enforce the trademarks of other parties.

Government representatives reassured them that domestic law is unlikely to change. Their intention, it was said, was for ACTA to set an international standard to improve the export market for Australia's digital goods.

Australia was described as a "moderate" player in ACTA discussions by these representatives, who considered the release of a draft text of the agreement a "triumph for the moderates."

The IIA challenged the Government to be equally transparent after the next round of ACTA negotiations.

"If at the next meeting the Government fails to make the ACTA text available, we are entitled to conclude that something hidden has been added to it that wasn't there before," Hilvert said.


Government holds the line on ACTA talks
 
 
 
Top Stories
Content, cost & constant innovation: How Foxtel plans to take on Netflix
Nell Payne inhabits the “brave new world of blue strings and networking”. Just don't ask her to put a TV screen on your microwave.
 
Westpac fires starting pistol on core banking upgrade
St George readies itself for move to Celeriti.
 
Sending in the drones
Margins are getting tighter in the industrial services industry, so Transfield Services' Stephen Phillips looks offshore - and to the skies - for the solutions he needs to keep pace.
 
 
Sign up to receive iTnews email bulletins
   FOLLOW US...
Latest articles on BIT Latest Articles from BIT
Microsoft launches Office for Android preview
May 22, 2015
Microsoft has launched a preview of Office for Android smartphones. Pre-release versions of ...
Microsoft is working on an iOS email chat feature called Flow
May 22, 2015
Microsoft is working on a new chat app, but at the moment we know more about what we DON'T know, ...
Windows 10 free upgrade: Microsoft details who gets what
May 22, 2015
Microsoft was meant to be streamlining its OS with Windows 10, so why is upgrading so confusing? ...
Windows 10 has an edition to suit everyone's needs
May 15, 2015
Microsoft unveils a mind-melting six editions of Windows 10 ahead of its Winter 2015 launch. ...
Firefox 38 FINAL released, debuts new tab-based preferences
May 13, 2015
Mozilla has unveiled the latest version of Firefox 38.0 FINAL for desktop, with Firefox for ...
Latest Comments
Polls
Should Optus make a bid for iiNet?

   |   View results
Yes
  43%
 
No
  57%
TOTAL VOTES: 564

Vote