Just over a week ago, a meeting was held behind closed doors between the Australian Attorney General, ISPs, and representatives of major media conglomerates. As we reported when the meeting was first announced, it seems the meeting is a followup to the threat made by AFACT about a three strikes policy.
The meeting, which took place September 23rd, has been shrouded in secrecy, with few details emerging. What might initially seem as cards being played close to the chest seems to have taken on a more worrying overtone, with revelations today in technology news site Delimiter.
Delimiter, founded by former ZDNet Australia editor Renai Le May, had filed a Freedom of Information (FOI) request for the minutes of the meeting. The response they received from the Attorney General’s office was less than encouraging.
“This letter is to advise you that this department does not hold documents of the type you are requesting,” Delimiter quotes the reply.
“I am obliged, therefore, to refuse your request under section 24A of the [Freedom of Information] Act. That provision allows an agency to refuse a request if all reasonable steps have been taken to locate the documents sought and it is satisfied that the documents either do not exist or cannot be found.”
Consumer groups like Electronic Frontiers Australia have been very critical of the meeting, as has Pirate Party Australia.
“Not only has the Attorney-General convened secret meetings, now those discussions are secret, with no basic measures of transparency or accountability,” PPAU President Rodney Serkowski told TorrentFreak. “This is of course from a department that wants to implement the retention of all private communications data in Australia.”
Meanwhile Mr Serkowski, on behalf of the Pirate Party, filed his own FOI request on September 30th including notes and emails relating to the meeting, as well as correspondence about the meeting. The Attorney General’s office has indicated they’ve received it and will try and process it by October 30th.
Australians have clearly learnt from the lessons of the UK, where the Digital Economy Act was passed thanks to false claims.