auDA Take Down Anti-Internet Filtering Website in Record Time

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On the afternoon of Thu 17th, 2009 SAPIA Pty Ltd registered the domain name "stephenconroy.com.au" as a satirical platform on which to air grievances and promote debate about the Australian governments proposed mandatory Internet filtering scheme. By 5pm the next day, the website was forcibly taken offline by auDA, Australia's domain authority body after a complaint concerning the registrant's eligibility was raised, presumably by Stephen Conroy's office: the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.

On the afternoon of Thu 17th, 2009 SAPIA Pty Ltd registered the domain name "stephenconroy.com.au" as a satirical platform on which to air grievances and promote debate about the Australian governments proposed mandatory Internet filtering scheme.

By 5pm the next day, the website was forcibly taken offline by auDA, Australia's domain authority body after a complaint concerning the registrant's eligibility was raised, presumably by Stephen Conroy's office: the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.

SAPIA was given merely 3 hours to issue a response which is an unusually short period of time for domain eligibility complaints to be arbitrated. Typically domains in question are given up to 10 days for arbitration to occur. This time frame was manifestly inadequate to obtain representation and prepare an appropriate response and a request for additional time was denied personally by Chris Disspain, auDA's CEO shortly before the domain was taken offline.

This naturally raises concerns about outright Internet censorship at worst, collusion between auDA and the government as a possibly, and at best a knee-jerk political reaction by auDA which appears on the face of it like the suppression of political debate in Australia.

This situation echos the 2006 takedown of Richard Neville's John Howard "Apology" parody website, which disappeared without recourse.

The website will remain online at http://stephen-conroy.com regardless of future decisions by auDA. IT professionals, Law experts and the Internet community at large have contacted SAPIA expressing their support and we will continue to express our discontent in a democratic, law abiding manner as is appropriate for a free and civilised western country such as Australia.

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Tim March

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