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Monday, 24 May 1999
Page: 5221


Senator ALSTON (Communications, Information Technology and the Arts) (9:30 PM) —I think every regime is different for the simple fact, apart from anything else, that technologies keep changing. But the Americans in their approach, for example—and I think they have been twice struck down by their Supreme Court—have been much more specific than we have been in ours. Their regime has imposed strict liability on service providers, whereas our regime does provide a much greater degree of flexibility in terms of requiring the industry to develop codes of practice and having criteria in forming those codes of practice that will enable the industry to accommodate new developments.

I do not believe that this sort of system has been tried anywhere before. Certainly a number of countries have imposed requirements for proxy filters. But, again, they vary in their degree of comprehensiveness and, because those regimes were put in place some years ago, they do not take account of some of the developments that have been brought to our attention even in the last few months. I do not think we should in any way shy away from taking action just because no-one else has gone down this path. In fact, it has been put to me that, if we get it right, this may well be a much more sensible model than that which has been tried in some other places.