[amc] Retraction: Australian PM Apology

  • From: Wilson Tan <wilsonhptan@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: Austin Mennonite Church <amc@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 19 Mar 2006 16:59:18 -0600

Hi all,

I have been phised.  The supposed apology from PM John Howard was in fact
too good to be true.

The Australian Government has shut down a parody website that mocked
Australian Prime Minister John Howard. The website featured a satirical
speech that 'apologised' for the Iraq war. The site was down for two days
before a phone call from Melbourne IT advised the owner that it had been
shut down 'on the advice from the Australian Government'.

See below article in The Sydney Morning Herald.  I will be sure to double
verify my sources in the future.


Government orders spoof site shut
By Louisa Hearn
March 17, 2006

A spoof John Howard website that featured a soul searching "apology" speech
for the Iraq war has been shut down under orders from the Australian

Richard Neville, an Australian futurist and social commentator was
"mystified" to discover his satirical website johnhowardpm.org had been
blocked on Tuesday with no explanation from either his web hosting company,
Yahoo or the domain name registrar, Melbourne IT.

He said that after two days of silence, a customer service representative
from Melbourne IT today informed him by telephone that the site had "been
closed on the advice from the Australian Government".

Mr Neville's satirical "apology" speech ran on a mocked-up version of a
spoof website that resembled Mr Howard's own, and after going live on
Monday, received 10,500 visits within 24 hours.

Bruce Tonkin, the chief technology officer at Melbourne IT, said the site
had been shut down in response to a request from the Prime Minister's office
on basis that it looked too similar to its own site.

"If we receive a complaint from an intellectual property basis claiming that
a website directly infringes the rights of another site we would check it,
and if it is a direct copy we would suspend the site," he said.

He said the issue of whether or not the content was satirical was of no
consequence to Melbourne IT. "To us it looks like a phishing site," he said.

Mr Neville contests that there are any similarities between a satirical
website and a phishing operation, which would typically carry an intent of
data or financial theft.

"I don't see how you can make judgements that ignore the content or
intention of the site. To give the satire more impact it was important to
make it look like an official speech. Obviously there was no hacking of the
original site, and I did not choose to make it too close to the actual
design, and my name and address were readily accessible," he said.

He added that one of the reasons he had chosen Yahoo's hosting service was
because it did not have any obvious policies that restricted the nature of
content that could be published.

"If there were objections to the content on the site, isn't there a
democratic tradition that I be informed of it," he said.

Mr Neville describes the parody as an act of satire and culture jamming, and
is now running a link to a PDF copy of the speech on his website.

He has been involved in satirical publishing since the 1960's when he edited
Oz magazine, which covered contentious issues of the time. However some of
the subject matter led to obsenity charges for him and his colleagues, that
were later overturned.

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