Australian Customs Officials Will Search Your Laptop For Porn

The Australian Sex Party - which is a trade group, not a fun Friday night - has risen up against new Australian customs rules that allow officials to search your personal electronics for pornography. Even Crocodile DunDD? Outrage!

When heading Down Under, travellers are required to fill out Incoming Passenger Cards that list what they're bringing into the country. For the last several months, those cards have included a "Pornography" category. If you don't check the box but have mature content on your laptop or phone, you're breaking the law. If you do check it, officials are going to go through your stash.

While measures to prevent illegal pornography from crossing borders make total sense, Australian customs officials are looking for any and all R18+ and N18+ material - even of the homemade variety. As ASP president Fiona Patten points out:

"If you and your partner have filmed or photographed yourselves making love in an exotic destination or even taking a bath, you will have to answer 'Yes' to the question or you will be breaking the law."

The policy has been in place since last year, and the fact that it's only just now gaining notoriety indicates that it hasn't created too much awkwardness. It's a terrible breach of privacy, though, and one that will hopefully be corrected now that the backlash is finally building.

But for now? Best to think twice about heading to the outback with a hard drive full of boobs. [Sydney Morning Herald via Reddit]


Comments

    I have to wonder if this is related to the Internet Filtering craziness that Conroy is on about currently..

    This shouldn't be a problem for most who frequent the site though surely? I imagine we're all versed enough in computers to know how to hide things better Johny Customs knows how to search.

    Awesome, now i've got justification for showing random strangers that picture on my mobile phone of my wifes fantastic boobies!

    Bill O'Rights time now, I think.

    I bet the simple process of just changing the file extension would be enough. .avi's don't like being run as .exe's etc. Extensions like .dat, .bat, .dll would make them blend into any folder.

    With the size of hard drives these days, it would be interesting to know what method they use. They way things are going, you'll need an extra week off just for boarding.

    A friend recently got held up after he stated his name and it didn't match his passport... 'cause THEY read it wrong. They soon realised their mistake, but kept him for 2 hours just to "verify" that's who he was.

    This new measure was quietly pushed through by the Christian Right lobby groups who worryingly have been gaining some sway in Government issues down under. They are also the ones who are pushing for the hugely unpopular government controlled mandatory internet filter. This is what happens when Christians get some form of power, they start imposing their ridiculous and irrational views on sex and morality onto everyone, with predictably disastrous consequences.

    Policing Australia's content to prevent material that runs contrary to local statutes has always been legal in Australia. There have always been Pornography that was refused classification and hence that were illegal. Just because people have had a sewerpipe connected to their computer for twenty years now, doesn't mean that storing that material won't be illegal in some jurisdictions. There has always been the right for customs to search and seize DVDs. Now they have one one step up.

    At least with Labor, you know they're being consistent.

    It's clear how ignorant you are Susan Miles. Tarring a group with one brush is like saying all Muslims are terrorists. Certain things Muslims and Christians advocate actually make sense.

    http://www.unaids.org/en/CountryResponses/Countries/somalia.asp

    http://www.unaids.org/en/CountryResponses/Countries/somalia.asp

    This map shows that Somalia has a relatively low rate of AIDs, even though they have a boarder with Kenya, and Ethiopia, which both have a high rate of AIDs. Why? Because Somalia are strict Muslims and aren't having pre-marital sex (therefore only one sexual partner, in theory). Ergo, Christians, who strictly speaking don't agree with pre-marital sex, are right about aspects of sex and morality.

      I think the bigger issue is that the customs card isn't asking if you have "illegal" pornography - stuff that's RC in Australia. It's asking about pornography in general, much of which is perfectly legal.

      Of course certain things that Muslims and Christians (and other religious groups) advocate make sense. They're also the same things that also get advocated by other non-religious groups, backed by science and learning. The things that Christians and Muslims advocate that aren't supported by science and learning generally make very little sense to anyone who doesn't have imaginary friends.

      But, let's concentrate on your one factoid; Somalia's lower rate of HIV infection that both Kenya and Ethopia. Yes, not AIDS - HIV. The two are different. You state that 'cos Somalis are strict Muslims, they - in theory - only have one sexual partner. According to Koranic law, male Muslims are allowed up to four wives. Not one. Oh, and they can also have a number of 'temporary' wives as well. So the "only one sexual partner" statement you make is a complete fallacy. Second to abstinence, the next best method of stopping infection with HIV and other STDs is a barrier contraceptive. Condoms, namely.

      Of course, use of condoms is banned by both Muslim authorities and the Catholic church. Muslim and Catholic leaders in Africa have been caught many times issuing lies to their followers about condoms; condoms block sperm but let the AIDS virus through, condoms are laced with the AIDS virus deliberately, using condoms will result in the user going straight to hell, etc. etc. If the religions were so keen to stop AIDS, surely they'd happily support all methods that help prevent infection, rather than using every weapon in their arsenal to try and force their followers to act in a way commensurate with the religion's moral preachings.

      Yes - Somalia does seem to have a lower rate of HIV infection than neighbouring countries. Wonder why that is? Well, as anyone capable of actually reading the website you linked to could tell you, the main reason for Somalia's low reports of HIV infection is LACK OF DATA! There's no data available for key socio-economic indicators, such as literacy rates, poverty rates, or school enrolment. In fact, there is no accurate data available for HIV infection rates or people with full-blown AIDS. The information presented on the UNAIDS site is estimated, based upon extrapolation of limited amounts of data gleaned for the few NGOs operating in Somalia.

      Yes, there are only a few left. The decade-long civil war caused most of them to leave, what with continual attacks on compounds, arrests of NGO workers (especially the in-pats) and the difficulty of dealing with Muslim militiss that liked nothing better than stoning women to death for adultery (oh, and being raped classed as adultery), carrying out executions ordered by the most corrupt kangaroo courts imaginable, using child soldiers to ethnically cleanse areas of animists and more liberal Muslims, etc. etc. The list of atrocities carried out by Muslim militias makes for a very long and gruesome read.

      But hey - please feel free to continue to use the low "AIDS" rate in Somalia as justification for Kevin Rudd's increasing blatant violations of the most basic of civil liberties.

        Just to clarify a few things.
        While Muslims are allowed to have 4 wives very few Muslims around the world do have more then 1. The Quran encourages Muslims make sure that they are up to the responsibility of having multiple wives before they do so. I am not sure why you have a problem with this though. Remember that Muslims are not allowed to satisfy sexual desires outside marriage and for many people this is a solution to a social problem that has no other solution.

        As for "temporary sexual partners", I can a assure you that this is explicitly forbidden. You have to understand that it is Islam's intention to strengthen family relations and one of the ways to do that is to keep husbands and wives focused on each other. Allowing people to participate in casual sexual relationships would be completely against the Islamic social structure.

        It has been my experience that many non-Muslims are ready to accept any rubbish from anyone when it comes to the faith and beliefs of Muslims. We are no more or less then you are. Try to make sure that the sources you get your information from are not extreme (left or right).

      I don't get how you managed to find a link between religion and HIV/AIDS between these three countries.

      Somalia
      Sunni Muslim is the only recognised religion

      Ethiopia
      Christian 60.8% (Orthodox 50.6%, Protestant 10.2%), Muslim 32.8%, traditional 4.6%, other 1.8% (1994 census)

      Kenya
      Protestant 45%, Roman Catholic 33%, Muslim 10%, indigenous beliefs 10%, other 2%

      source cia world factbook

      According to your source, UNAIDS, Kenya has had one of the most dramatic declines in HIV/AIDS infection rates in Africa, reducing the rate by half over a period of 10 years. Their own reports state that this is due to greater awareness of HIV/AIDS spread by UN programs that aim to educate the wide-spread communities.

      http://www.unaids.org/en/CountryResponses/Countries/kenya.asp

      Regarding Somalia, UNAIDS reports that a large proportion of HIV/AIDS infections are related to sex workers and transactional sex. I'm pretty sure Islam (as well as all other major religions) does not condone sex workers.

      Kate, maybe you shouldn't be so quick to point out the ignorance of others. Aren't you just "tarring a group with one brush", except that you're ignorantly trying to paint Christians in a positive light?

      RC content IS NOT ILLEGAL. It doesnt matter how many times people say this it doesn't make it so. Some very specific RC content is illegal in some states but the vast majority is perfectly legal to own and view just not sell or advertise etc.

      But keep up the BS (and dodgy faux scientific analysis) if you say it enough surely it will become true right?

      RC Material as a whole is by NO means illegal in Australia in and of itself. Certainly, child pornography is 'classified' RC but so are countless other legal (under Australian law) items. It is illegal to exhibition, sale or hire within Australia all RC material, but many, such as computer games are perfectly legal to own and use as they are not breaking any laws (they do, however, offend the 6 people who ban them).

    So they only search for Illegal porn right?

    What if I filled my entire harddrive with something like german fart porn, and then said i had porno on my PC, would be hilarious to sit there watching the most offensive porn you can find on the internet. As long as its not illegal they have to let you through.

    As an Aussie and frequent traveller I am ashamed of what we are fast becoming. Its a disgrace and goes against all that we used to value, i.e. a fair go, tolerance, presumtion of being innocent etc.. To have to deal with those jack booted Customs Nazi's on every entry is almost too much to bear.

    The Australian Christian Lobby is getting away with too much of this sort of thing. Its wasting taxpayers money, inconviencing everyone, slowing everything down in an attempt to achieve the unachievable. This will have practicaly zero impact on child porn entering the country. As will the internet filter due to come online. Instead it will simply slow both down and cost taxpayers millions for nothing but a false sense of something being done. I hope someone puts these idiots in their places. Its just rediculous!

    I'm going through customs today. I love the fat german porn idea so I just have to give it a go!

    next trip back in im going to take a pic of my male parts with a sign hanging off it that reads perverts are perverts.

    "oh its just my job" yeah right!

    if you have a camera on your phone and take a not so nie pic on the plane just for them, i mean if everyone did it they would have to get sick ofit right?

    austalian customs, penis inspectors since 2010

    One of the main problems with all this, is the liberals would do exactly the same thing. So much for democracy.

    I can't believe the amount of discussion and uproar that a poorly researched story by a second rate journalist for Sydney Morning Herald can bring.

    The "new legislation" announced in the article is primarily Regulation 4A of the Customs Prohibited Import Regulations and was introduced approximately 30 years ago. In short, it prescribes that various images of an offensive or abhorrent nature as Prohibited Imports, including images of child pornography, beastiality, rape, snuff etc. It doesn't include standard adult pornography, even if it isn't classified in Australia. The Prohibited Imports Regulations have no relationship with the classification standards, it is purely based on the images.

    The Customs Act gives Customs Officer the power to search baggage and examine documents of all travellers entering Australia for Prohibited Imports, including those mentioned above. The power has been in place since the 1970's. The definition of "documents" was changed in the 1990's to include electronic storage to ensure that Customs could detect child pornography being imported on laptops, harddrives etc.

    The only reason the pornography question was added to the passenger card was so that importers of child pornography could not use the excuse of "I didn't know I had to declare it" as an excuse. If you tick NO and an Officer finds a photo of you and a partner, the photo would not be seized and you would not be prosecuted for making a false declaration. Prosecution for false declaration is a secondary charge against somebody who has imported a Prohibited Import. It is simply too expensive to bring about a false declaration charge on its own. Think about it, how many people are charged with making a false declaration when they have lollies (food) in there baggage?

    Customs have had the ability to examine your journals, printed photographs, video tapes since they were fashionable. They've also had the power to examine your laptops and harddrives and other digital files since laptops and harddrives became common.

    The powers are not new and laptops would only be held for further examination on reasonable grounds. Yes, most Customs Officers have probabably seen photos of travellers in sexual situations with wives, partners etc. They are never going to see you again, and if they do they are not likely to remember you photo, unless your photo was the one of a child being tortured or sexually abused.

    We give Customs Officers our trust to protect our community. Every year Customs identify more and more importers of child pornography, some of which are also the abuser. Customs investigations often lead to he identification of the abuse of a child.

    We should all be willing to give up a bit a little bit our privacy at the border for the sake of a safe community.

      "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety deserve neither Liberty nor Safety"
      -Benjamin Franklin

    I don't think you lot understand what Customs are doing. They are not worried about normal porn but really looking for child porn mainly. And they have an Investigations unit that will take you to court if needed. Customs has updates software to search for modified files and files that cannot be identified. They are spending a lot of money on their software. But if needed, they can hold your computers and even mobiles if they have files they need time to access. The just give you you a receipt for you goods while they hold them.

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