blog If you’ve been following the saga over the decision by Australia’s financial regulator ASIC to unlilaterally order the block of suspected fraud sites over the past week or so, you’re probably aware by now that the whole deal started when a little-known site named Melbourne Free University was mysteriously taken offline back in April. In a lengthy piece on the ABC’s The Drum website this afternoon, the convenors of the site tell their story and argue that the situation is just not good enough:
“We all know that unconscionable things happen on the internet, and that governments should be able to respond. We can see that this action can’t always be accompanied by full disclosure as it unfolds. But the unaccountable, blanket blocking approach that caught the [Melbourne Free University] is undemocratic. Australians expect to know how authority is going to be exercised, why, and how we can contest it.”
It’s hard not to sympathise with the folks behind Melbourne Free University here. Like the hand of God, the action by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission to use a little-known section of the Telecommunications Act to block suspected fraud websites came down on a number of innocent parties as well. And just like the hand of God, there was no explanation forthcoming — the group had no recourse, nowhere to turn to, apart from an appeal to grassroots political groups like the Greens, and the few journalists that would listen. Not precisely fair — and not precisely what we’re used to in our democratic society.
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