Dissing Information

We were preparing a post on some Australian Orwellian nonsense when news came out of even worse Australian Orwellian nonsense. So, first B, here, and then we’ll get back to work on A.

Yesterday, the Federal Government announced the release of draft legislation, aiming “to hold digital platforms to account for harmful misinformation and disinformation online”. The amending legislation would reportedly empower ACMA to whack social media companies with multimillion dollar fines if the companies “repeatedly fail to remove disinformation and misinformation”. People can (and should) have their say here, for the next month or so.

Of course the idea that a government authority should be in the business of Big Brothering the transmission of “disinformation and misinformation” is so absurd, so obscene, so counter to the principle of free discourse underpinning democracy, that nothing need be said. Except, the proposal is sufficiently idiotic that, in the event the proposal is not simply howled down, Australia’s flimsy free speech culture and protections may still be enough for the High Court to rule the Feds’ scheme unconstitutional lunacy.1

We won’t add more, except to provide the appropriate links:

  • The Have Your Say page is here.
  • The media release from Michelle Rowlands, the Minister for (Stifling) Communications, is here.
  • The draft legislation is here (misinformation and disinformation are defined in s7, on p12, and excluded content for misinformation purposes is defined on p5).
  • The Guidance Note for the draft legislation is here (see, in particular, s2.1.2).
  • The propaganda Fact Sheet for the draft legislation is here, (in which it is claimed that the legislation contains “strong protections for privacy and freedom of speech”).
  • The Have Your Say page is here.


1. In America, the Supreme Court effectively ended such bullshit in 1964, in New York Times Co. v. Sullivan. The case notes of Harry Kalven Jr. are really worth reading.

7 Replies to “Dissing Information”

  1. It is truly weird and disheartening to see a liberal first world democracy sliding towards policies that you would expect only authoritarian third world countries (like mine) to enact. Thank god at least the USA seems to be safe for the moment. People on the internet tend to make fun of all the free speech nuts over there, but you 100% need those people if you don’t want government overreach like the kind that’s been happening in AUS and the UK.

    1. Thanks, A, and yes. America is a basket case, but on free speech it’s got it very right. That’s now fraying a bit, as evidenced by the idiotically “meh” response to the Twitter Files, but I don’t think the Supreme Court will let it get too crazy.

      Australia, on the other hand, has a proud history of being cluelessly censorious. The Constitution is useless crap, the product of intellectual midgets, which is marginally mitigated only by the High Court’s desperate attempts to read in some meaningful protections. And Australians are, in sum, authority-worshipping sheep.

  2. Utterly crazy. I work in the public sector, which is infested with smugness and ‘civility’ which really means ‘no free speech’. I shudder to think of the effect of these laws, they must be opposed totally.

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