Friday, August 10, 2012
Australia doesn't believe in free speech
Facebook is under pressure in Australia to take down a page that insults Aborigines with the government accusing the social networking company of using its U.S. base to avoid Australian anti-discrimination laws. Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said that his office had called on Facebook's Sydney office to take the page down. Conroy said that the creator of the page, whom he believed was a 16-year-old Australian living in the west coast city of Perth, was getting around Australian anti-discrimination laws through U.S. guarantees of free speech. "We don't live by American laws here in Australia; we live by Australian laws and this is an Australian who is using the fact that Facebook is based in the U.S. to get away from Australian laws," Conroy told Australian Broadcasting Corp. television. "Facebook should take this site down," he added. The controversy comes after Australia's advertising watchdog ruled that companies were responsible for comments left on their Facebook pages by members of the public. The ruling has far-reaching consequences for companies' use of social media and raises questions about the culpability of enterprises outside Australia that inadvertently breach Australian laws via the Internet.