Australia conducting review to beef up law to tackle Internet racism

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Sydney, Feb 21(ANI): Australian Attorney-General Robert McClelland has ordered the Australian Human Rights Commission to conduct a review of "arrangements for dealing with racist material on the Internet."

The decision comes after Australian authorities warned that the existing law was often considered powerless to act against online content, which is responsible for almost one in five racial vilification complaints in the country.

"While freedom of expression is one of the most fundamental rights, this is not at the expense of the rights of people, while using the internet, to be treated with equality, dignity and respect," The Age quoted McClelland, as saying.

McClelland said the government was discussing on actions it could take on Internet material that breaches the Federal Racial Discrimination Act.

According to reports, options include providing the commission with sharper teeth to order Internet service providers to remove racist content, and changing the Racial Discrimination Act.

Meanwhile, Australian Race Discrimination Commissioner Graeme Innes said there were clearly "persistent pockets of racism in Australia", which were linked to attacks on Indian students and cyber racism.

"There is no getting away from it. Cyber racism is a result of that, as are the attacks on Indian students, and we need to address it," Innes said.

Innes said complaints about cyber racism made up 18 percent of all racism complaints received by the commission, and insisted that the Racial Discrimination Act should be changed to allow prosecutions in serious cases of Internet racism. (ANI)

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