Ben Shearman writes:

The mystery over the disappearance of Richard Neville’s satirical
“John Howard apology” posted at on Monday (still available here) has been solved. Neville called domain
registrar Melbourne IT this morning and was told that the site had
“been closed on the advice from the Australian Government”.

Naturally, our first thoughts were of government censorship, but Bruce
Tonkin, chief technology officer at Melbourne IT, told Crikey
that the registrar was just following its standard processes.

provisions state that a domain can’t be registered for the
purpose of infringing third party intellectual property rights. So when
Melbourne IT received a number of complaints from the Australian High
Tech Crime Centre and the Prime Minister’s office that the website replicated the PM’s official website, they
checked the two sites and the domain was suspended under its terms and
conditions. Bruce has assured us that they would have taken the same
action following a similar complaint from anyone – the fact that it came from the
Government had no bearing on the decision.

The fact that the hoax website was specifically designed to make the reader
believe it was the PM’s real website (the two below, the official site
is top), makes the decision no surprise. No consideration is given for satire or political comment.

Peter Fray

Fetch your first 12 weeks for $12

Here at Crikey, we saw a mighty surge in subscribers throughout 2020. Your support has been nothing short of amazing — we couldn’t have got through this year like no other without you, our readers.

If you haven’t joined us yet, fetch your first 12 weeks for $12 and start 2021 with the journalism you need to navigate whatever lies ahead.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey