Michael Atkinson Steps Back From Pre-Election Net Censorship

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Michael Atkinson Steps Back From Pre-Election Net Censorship

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South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson has backed away from a law requiring internet users to provide their real names and other information when commenting on the upcoming election, saying it will not be enforced and will be repealed immediately after the election.

The law, which actually came into effect on January 6 as part of a series of amendments to the state's Electoral Act, requires internet users who post stories or comments related to the upcoming state election to provide their real names and postcodes. Although it's quite clearly targeted at The Advertiser's AdelaideNow website, the law applies to all Australian news sites, yet Atkinson claimed it doesn't restrict free speech in any way.

"The AdelaideNow website is not just a sewer of criminal defamation, it is a sewer of identity theft and fraud," he said. "There is no impinging on freedom of speech, people are free to say what they wish as themselves, not as somebody else."

Atkinson acknowledged that he would be "punished" for the law, although he seemed to feel that it would be the media rather than the general public that would be behind the backlash. "I am also certain that Advertiser Newspapers and News Limited will punish me personally, viciously for being the attorney-general responsible for this law," he added. "You will publish false stories about me, invent things about me to punish me."

That may have been a bit of a miscalculation. While news sites did in fact decry the "censorship" being imposed by the South Australian government, the tide of outrage that flowed forth from individual citizens seemed to catch Atkinson by surprise. The reaction was so strong, in fact, that Atkinson quickly backtracked, vowing that the law would not be enforced and would be repealed after the election, although he couldn't resist slipping in a quick, drive-by zinger in the process.

"From the feedback we've received through AdelaideNow, the blogging generation believes that the law supported by all MPs and all political parties is unduly restrictive. I have listened," he said in a statement. "I will immediately after the election move to repeal the law retrospectively."

"It may be humiliating for me, but that's politics in a democracy and I'll take my lumps," he continued. "This way, no one need fear now that they are being censored on the net or in blogs, whether they blog under their own name or anonymously. The law will be repealed retrospectively. I call upon all the other political parties who supported this review to also review their position."

It's interesting to note that while Atkinson was the target of anger over the new law, it was, as he said, actually supported in Parliament by all political parties, including the opposition Liberals. "All MPs and all parties voted for Electoral law. Hope Libs, Greens, Family First, Independents etc will join us to support repeal," South Australia Premier Mike Rann posted on Twitter. "For many young people, and even the not so young, internet is their parliament of ideas and information.''

Sources: News.com.au, AdelaideNow, with thanks to elexis for the tip.

Permalink

I do believe that the politicians there understand they're dealing with a hazardous politician and that its best they do everything they can to buff up their flameshield against those this hazardous politician pissed off.

Andy Chalk:
South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson has backed away from a law requiring internet users to provide their real names and other information when commenting on the upcoming election, saying it will not be enforced and will be repealed immediately after the election.

lol.

Is this his way of blackmailing the nation into electing him?

ELECT ME OR ELSE YOU WON'T BE ABLE TO ANONYMOUSLY FLAME PEOPLE ON YOUTUBE!!!!

MUHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

What a slightly pointless yet thoroughly interesting story. I'm praying for all Austrailian gamers that Atkinson is booted out in the election. There'll be parties in the streets when that day comes.

Must also mention Atkinson's appalling teeth. Mate, it's called a dentist! Visit one some time!

I say this is good news. You don't mess with the internet!

Why? Because it's the best thing we have. If you try to mess with the internet, the thing that people use every day to escape reality and do what they want, what do you think those people will do to you in real life?

I don't understand why anyone would want to take away anonymous flames in favor of demonstrations against his stupid ass.

Woah, he listened to his populace?

IMPOSSIBLE!

Its a trap, he is only giving it away to reinforce his position on the gaming!

This is an unexpected move...Atkinson listening to popular opinion? *Looks outside to see if the rivers are running red with blood* Huh. No sign of the end of days.

Still hope he gets booted out though. Aussie gamers deserve the uncut L4D2.

Hardcore_gamer:

Andy Chalk:
South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson has backed away from a law requiring internet users to provide their real names and other information when commenting on the upcoming election, saying it will not be enforced and will be repealed immediately after the election.

lol.

Is this his way of blackmailing the nation into electing him?

ELECT ME OR ELSE YOU WON'T BE ABLE TO ANONYMOUSLY FLAME PEOPLE ON YOUTUBE!!!!

MUHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Thats what I got out of this article.

Clever bastard...

I hope he/his party loses the next election

Ma55ter_fett
132, 21st street
Republic of Narnia

My view was summed up by the good Mr. Croshaw when he said "I thought this was when you were supposed to start forming armed resistance groups and shit."

A bit of political activism would probably do you guys some good down there.

That said goverments (in general) have been after so called "mask laws" for a long period of time. The authorities in general don't like the idea of people being anonymous whether it's in person or online. There have been attempts here in the US at least to (unsuccessfully) require that people's faces always be visible and easily recognizable, in addition to the stuff online. The only one that I know of that succeeded (and which I oppose) was regulating car window tint without getting specific exemptions. To make it so you could more easily recognize drivers and if someone was inside a car. This however was changed to include only the driver area (as opposed to the whole thing) which is why you can still have tinted windows in the back of a limo or van.

In general though I find it kind of amusing that Atkinson says he'll repeal it AFTER he's elected. I can't help but wonder if that's a promise he simply doesn't intend to keep.

A law is only a law if it is respected by the people expected to follow it. For example j-walking. They won't take the time to fine 10,000,000 people on the first day, and if you let one go, you gotta let them all go, and he knows that. Good move on his part to back peddle it.

Therumancer:

In general though I find it kind of amusing that Atkinson says he'll repeal it AFTER he's elected. I can't help but wonder if that's a promise he simply doesn't intend to keep.

I was thinking the same thing.

I still can't believe the hypocrisy surrounding Atkinson. He makes all these things to protect the people from what they don't know, then when people try to express their opinion he calls it unfair. Now, it's trying to make people divulge their identity before getting their "freedom of expression" right. I can't wait for the results of this election, because it will say a lot about the Australian populace depending on whether they put up with this; gamers or not.

Therumancer:
A bit of political activism would probably do you guys some good down there.

Hey, we have plenty of it! There is a party specifically set up to run against him, there is public debate and complaints being lodged. The problem is that the specific position Atkinson is is being abused and there's little that can actually be done about it. He has what is one of the safest seats in the country and it would take a massive change to vote him out, something that a single issue like this won't do. The major opposition party, the Liberals, are in a shambles and aren't likely to attract many votes this election. They're the single group of people who's voice matters and they don't care.

The party itself are unlikely to remove him. The workings of a political party in Australia are complex, but it's generally a system of working your way up and staying there, no one rocks the boat. Changing this would take a little bit more than a "bit of political activism", especially when it involves a party that's sure to win the election if they do nothing. Australia needs a big change in how political parties work and how the government works to avoid this kind of abuse of power, but it's going to take more than activism.

In general though I find it kind of amusing that Atkinson says he'll repeal it AFTER he's elected. I can't help but wonder if that's a promise he simply doesn't intend to keep.

Atkinson is a spitting image for our former Prime Minister, John Howard. Howard came up with the term "non-core promises" for things he promised during the election campaign then didn't do afterwards, only following through on "core promises". What was core and non-core seemed entirely arbitrary, but generally went along the lines of "stuff people actually want" being non-core and the little, insano projects buried in some press conference being core promises. Oddly enough, Atkinson and Howard came from opposite parties.

On an somewhat separate note: is that photo really his official portrait? If it is, tell him to scowl more; those teeth are practically a bad steriotype unto themselves.

On censorship, I entirely understand where he's coming from, but it's practically insane to ask for identification from everyperson who speaks on the subject.

Author:
Kevin Rudd
Canberra 2601

This sounds more like a political ruse if you ask me. Not to sound like a conspiricy theorist but most politicians will do anything to keep their jobs. This is what I think...

He is doing this to make it look like he actually listens to the people. By saying he would work to repeal this law which he was behind he is showing that "he is working for what the people as a whole want." This way he also makes it look like he is willing to concede that what he wants isn't all ways going to be what the people want and will back off.

In reality this law was probably something he didn't care as much about and was willing to give up on if it allows him to furthur his real agendas. Basicily all the adult rateings for the entertainment industry.

Hardcore_gamer:

Andy Chalk:
South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson has backed away from a law requiring internet users to provide their real names and other information when commenting on the upcoming election, saying it will not be enforced and will be repealed immediately after the election.

lol.

Is this his way of blackmailing the nation into electing him?

ELECT ME OR ELSE YOU WON'T BE ABLE TO ANONYMOUSLY FLAME PEOPLE ON YOUTUBE!!!!

MUHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Your probably not all that far away from the truth there. If he truely ment what he said he choose a horrible wording for his reply. By stating it this way he is makeing it look like he is the publics only hope to haveing this law repealed, and it will only happen if he is re-elected. Now if he is re-elected the question is; will he follow through with it? I don't know what the laws are in reguards to politicians being ousted during their term in Australia but it sounds much like a ploy to keep him self going for another term, in which he thinks people will just forget about it, or can't do anything about it while he is still in office.

I could be wrong but this sounds like more political chess if you ask my opinion.

Never underestimate the "elect me and I'll stop making you miserable" tactic.
It got Bush re-elected, that along with tampered voting machines and rousing the bigots out of the woodwork.

Deofuta:
Woah, he listened to his populace?

IMPOSSIBLE!

Its a trap, he is only giving it away to reinforce his position on the gaming!

hes only doing it so he will get re-elected...Something this unpopular will sit on the back burner until he is back in office then he can work on it again

GonzoGamer:
Never underestimate the "elect me and I'll stop making you miserable" tactic.
It got Bush re-elected, that along with tampered voting machines and rousing the bigots out of the woodwork.

Yes because if you voted for bush your a biggot. It has nothing to do with Kerry or Gore being his opponents. Nothing at all. Nothing. *Sigh*

This law seems unfair to me and more to do with Politicians fear of thier own people.

Sadly, if Atkinson gets the boot I wont get anymore of the "Atkinson news" on the escapist and it always makes me feel good knowing im an adult in my country and im allowed to play games catered to adults without censorship. Sorry Aussies, i need a pick-me-up and it comes at your expense at times. Sorry.

Jesus, his security is godlike. I thought he was murdered by now. Maybe he's a mason?

I

LOVE

the way he seems to think they'll have to "make up" bad things about him to get people to hate him

Big Brother should have been Big Michael

-Pod-:

GonzoGamer:
Never underestimate the "elect me and I'll stop making you miserable" tactic.
It got Bush re-elected, that along with tampered voting machines and rousing the bigots out of the woodwork.

Yes because if you voted for bush your a biggot. It has nothing to do with Kerry or Gore being his opponents. Nothing at all. Nothing. *Sigh*

As a Democrat, I have to agree. Lord knows that neither Gore nor Kerry were good choices, they were just better than the alternative.

South Australia is this countries toilet bowl.

When we got rid of Jack Thompson, another one of these people popped up. I mean, seriously.
Although it's pretty worrying that unlike Thompson, people actually give a shit about what Atkinson says.

-Pod-:

GonzoGamer:
Never underestimate the "elect me and I'll stop making you miserable" tactic.
It got Bush re-elected, that along with tampered voting machines and rousing the bigots out of the woodwork.

Yes because if you voted for bush your a biggot. It has nothing to do with Kerry or Gore being his opponents. Nothing at all. Nothing. *Sigh*

This law seems unfair to me and more to do with Politicians fear of thier own people.

Sadly, if Atkinson gets the boot I wont get anymore of the "Atkinson news" on the escapist and it always makes me feel good knowing im an adult in my country and im allowed to play games catered to adults without censorship. Sorry Aussies, i need a pick-me-up and it comes at your expense at times. Sorry.

You know there were other people to vote for too. But that doesn't matter because the political tactic he used was to get everybody riled up about gay marriage and to get his easily hacked DB voting machines in the swing states.

Kerry is actually one of the only Democrats I ever considered voting for and that was just because he had to be better than Bush: hell, a shaved chimp would've been better than Bush.

He actually had enough leverage with the shady voting machines, there was no reason for the gaybashing that went on. However, I can tell from the rest of your post that compassion isn't your strong suit, so never mind and go enjoy your schadenfreude of the day.

rougeknife:
South Australia is this countries toilet bowl.

No, it isn't, but we do have one very big piece of shit floating around with its own office in Croydon.

Aaaah don't you just love politics. I'm quite sure politicians will destroy humanity as we know it long before computers become sentient.

Haven't heard of this law, but it's official:

Atkinson is trying to turn Australia into a Fascist regime.

GonzoGamer:
You know there were other people to vote for too. But that doesn't matter because the political tactic he used was to get everybody riled up about gay marriage and to get his easily hacked DB voting machines in the swing states.

Kerry is actually one of the only Democrats I ever considered voting for and that was just because he had to be better than Bush: hell, a shaved chimp would've been better than Bush.

He actually had enough leverage with the shady voting machines, there was no reason for the gaybashing that went on. However, I can tell from the rest of your post that compassion isn't your strong suit, so never mind and go enjoy your schadenfreude of the day.

Yes the only reason Bush got elected was because of gaybashing... Riiiight. Its pathetic, he hacked voting machines? Seriously you couldnt seem more bitter about it. I'm not saying he was good im just saying you're blatantly wrong. John Kerry was terrible and im sure a chimp would have had a better chance than him, at least we agree on one thing. I liked Howard Dean he probably would have won if not for his scream... which i didnt find that bad.

schadenfreude or not, im not the one constantly re-electing him so thats not really my problem if it makes me feel glad i live where i do. Dont assume you know anything about me, i've volunteered for hospitals, done food drives and worked in shelters... no i dont know what you've done for those less fortunate than yourself but dont tell me i dont have compassion because i'll politely tell you where you can shove it. :)

Anyways i think we've gotten off topic... maybe i guess its semi relevant. political and all.

tellmeimaninja:
Haven't heard of this law, but it's official:

Atkinson is trying to turn Australia into a Fascist regime.

I was just going to say that. I don't remember seeing anything about that(Honestly, the only news I get, nay the only news I really care about is the news I see here), but the first thing that leapt into my brain was China. Force the people to identify themselves, then track them down as enemies of the state.

I'm not sure if he has the power to do that, but it seems like the start to a slippery slope. If you can identify them, you can make them disappear.

smudgey:

rougeknife:
South Australia is this countries toilet bowl.

No, it isn't, but we do have one very big piece of shit floating around with its own office in Croydon.

Dude, you have Adelaide and Michael Atkinson! I kid, I kid. Well, about the Adelaide part anyway.

OT: The simple fact that he's planning on retracting AFTER the election pretty much guarantees that he isn't going to do anything about it. That's what politicians do, they lie. The difference is it's illegal for a doctor to lie, a lawyer to lie or even a witness in court. However people have come to expect it from politicians, so it's pretty much allowed.

See, this kind of BS, is why I don't trust politicians. (Australian ones in particular).

Democracy is over-rated, when you realise what's going on;

We used to have arbitrary dictators that made whatever laws they felt like, as long as it didn't get bad enough to get them assasinated.

Now? We have 'elected' officials that do whatever they feel like, and then try and con and manipulate us into believing it's what the 'other' voters wanted...

The dishonesty of it sickens me.

Well. Looking forward to my brand new fascist regime... I'll be deep underground, illegally downloading games, movies and music that gets banned. And posting with the name "anon". See you there, Aussies.

CrystalShadow:
See, this kind of BS, is why I don't trust politicians. (Australian ones in particular).

Additionally you HAVE to vote. Sometimes both just suck and you don't care since they are the same. They are sometimes a joke with what they argue about and propose.

Deofuta:
Woah, he listened to his populace?

IMPOSSIBLE!

Its a trap, he is only giving it away to reinforce his position on the gaming!

I don't see this lasting

Hehehe, strike one Atkinson. How do you enforce this sort of law, anyways? I'm tempted to go on that website and troll...anonymously.

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