Whistle-blower website Wikileaks came back online today after a lengthy absence following its publication last week of what had appeared to be a leaked copy of the Australian Communications and Media Authority's blacklist.
ACMA takes these reports seriously and will look into the release of any further purported versions of its blacklist
The leaks site had been asking for donations to be able to put more servers online after experiencing network congestion. "This is a regular difficulty that can only be resolved by deploying additional resources," the site had said. "If you support our mission, then show it in the way that is most needed."
The site's problems came after posting what it claimed was a copy of ACMA's blacklist, which will form the basis for the sites to be excluded by Communications Minister Stephen Conroy's filtering trial.
Both ACMA and Conroy denied that the list in question was the ACMA blacklist, saying it had too many URLs on it.
Before the Wikileaks went offline, the organisation posted what it claimed was a more up-to-date blacklist. A summary describing the list claimed that ACMA had carried out an "enormous" clean-up of the list between the current and the last version being posted.
The summary said the new list had around 1,172 URLs, more than the 1,061 Conroy quoted for 6 August 2008. When contacted yesterday about the new list, ACMA said it was aware of it but could not comment since it had at that time been unable to view the list.
Yet it would definitely be looking into the issue. "ACMA takes these reports seriously and will look into the release of any further purported versions of its blacklist," a spokesperson said.
ACMA did not consider that the release and promotion of the URLs was responsible and said that it would have a "substantial adverse effect" on the administration of the regulatory scheme to prevent access to harmful and offensive online material.
Conroy had also threatened those leaking the documents that they might face criminal prosecution, but in a press release late last week Wikileaks issued a statement threatening the communications minister in return.
"Under the Swedish Constitution's Press Freedom Act, the right of a confidential press source to anonymity is protected, and criminal penalties apply to anyone acting to breach that right," Sunshine Press legal adviser Jay Lim said in a statement.
"Wikileaks' source documents are received in Sweden and published from Sweden so as to derive maximum benefit from this legal protection. Should the senator or anyone else attempt to discover our source we will refer the matter to the Constitutional Police for prosecution, and, if necessary, ask that the senator and anyone else involved be extradited to face justice for breaching fundamental rights."
Neither Conroy's office or ACMA have responded to queries on whether that release has changed their stance.