back to article Hand over illegal porn at the border, please

Relief is at hand for confused travellers who are not too sure what sort of smut they're allowed to import into Australia. Previously, visitors to God’s Own Country were asked to fill out a card including a declaration as to whether or not they were carrying any pornography. Objectors said that not only did this fail to serve …


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  1. sebacoustic

    please queue here to hand in your illegal pr0n

    and wait for your detention cell.

    Roman: Next. Ah. Crucifixion?

    Prisnr4: Yes.

    Roman: Good. Out of the door, line on the left. One cross each. Jailer?

    1. Marvin the Martian
      Thumb Up

      please queue here for BSR job application

      Given that each border post will have to have a very experienced Border Smut Reviewer, I feel there's very good job opportunities lying in this law, for some otherwise hard-to-employ people with a unique/limited experience/skill set...

  2. Semaj
    Paris Hilton


    "If something is perfectly legal in your own country, would you even think to ask when travelling to another?"

    Yes, Definitely.

    Though the Australian government are wrong and crazy it's the traveller's responsibility to find out the laws and customs of the country they are visiting before they do.

    1. Cameron Colley


      While you are, of course, correct the devil is in the detail here. I think most people will know the "headline laws" of countries so, for example, they will probably realise not to take porn to Pakistan -- but knowing what is and isn't legal porn in a more permissive country is something even a specialist lawyer in that country doesn't always know until the trial is over.

      1. It wasnt me

        So what ?

        Are there really people who out there who cant live without porn for a couple of weeks on holiday? Whenever visiting a foreign country we should respect their laws. Not agree with them but respect them. Just assume anything contentious isnt allowed. If you really cant live without filth for a week then get some when youre there. It'll be legal that way.

        Same for alcohol, drugs, guns etc.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          @It wasnt me

          I'll bite. What's contentious?

          Showing your face if you're female? Yes, in Arab states.

          Males having long hair? Yes in some Asian countries

          Speaking if you're female in the presence of a male? Yes, in a few eastern countries

          So what, you want us to leave everything behind? A yes or no answer will suffice.

    2. mego


      There are over 300 laws in Australia . Those are just laws of the country, not immigration controls, etc. Must we study these too? Get real. Nobody can be expected to "know" the laws of a foreign country; especially when the newer laws are so contrary to 98% of the rest of the world; in fact some are even more tightarsed than the middle east..

    3. peyton?
      Paris Hilton

      re: a

      I'm confused by the thumbs down and dismay over this statement. I mean, if the argument is that it's OK to be ignorant of another country's laws when you visit... I mean... how does that defence work in court? "erm... I didn't know, your honor."?

      And anyway, isn't that the stereotypical "american" view to take - "Well if it works for me, it's good for the rest of the world". I remember some years ago an American lad was chewing gum in some foreign parts and got caned for it. I think there was some involvement of our consulate there to try and step in and say "erm, yes, well, that does seem a bit extreme from our view, could you let it slide this one time" - but he still got caned I think.

      1. Anonymous Coward


        Ahh, had to get the US-bashing in there somehow, didn't you - despite the fact that the US isn't mentioned anywhere in the article!

        Hey, hang on, I think you misspelled something - it's supposed to be 'merkin' in this context. You know, because Bush used to be president, and he was dumb, and so all americans are dumb southerners and... oh, hell, whatever. You go wit' your bad self.

      2. Anonymous Coward

        Reply to post: re: a

        I doubt I even know 10% of the laws in my own country. Largely because noone wants to educate anyone on them. I understand that they largely amount to don't be an ass and keep your head down and that seems to work well enough for most people in most countries.

        Unfortunately, there are also a lot of absurd laws on the books. I seem to recall one country banned travellers from bringing iPhones into the country with them. While, something like that might show up on a website or two when you're checking the web for things not to do in the country you're travelling to, many don't.

        I know there are a lot of laws here that are utterly absurd and can't imagine how they even got accepted. Things like "don't walk your pet alligator down the middle of the street between 4PM and 6PM." While, I'm unlikely to fall a foul of that, some countries have laws about things that are considered common place in other countries. I seem to recall that in China, people tend to spit a lot on the street, where in a different country, that's considered illegal. Something that I take completely for granted as being a normal part of life can be illegal in another country and I'd never think to look to see if it was. Many of these laws can also change based on the city or town you're in as well.

        None of this means that I wouldn't be arrested for doing something that the local country thinks is bad. But I would make sure that neither I, nor anyone I know would be going back to that country afterwards either. Probably try not to buy any of their goods as well.

      3. dssf

        He got the cane because they were


        Really, though, the Australian government can do better here. Define what is and is not legal. Let the immigrant or vacationer declare after being handed the pre-landing card. But, well before that, have the airliners courtesy-prompt the ticket buyer or the named traveler to visit the customs/regulatory sites of the relevant country/ies. In anonymity, before embarrassing disclosure, the intending traveler can determine whether or not to scrub the computer drive, or the phone or other data devices or the digital picture frames.

        On arrival Customs can or might ask for random sampling, but they shouldn't be hamfisted and criminalizing about it.

        -- Permit let the onward traveler proceed unmolested (to use a maritime word)

        - Either check ALL or check none of the inbound/offboarding travelers. If entering the country and not just changing planes and not going into a publicly-accessible area where illegal or contraband items can be swapped, then travelers/vacationers could be subject to inspection.

        -- Inform the ticket holder of their being subjectable to a random inspection. Ask the traveler to submit, or to toss a coin to equalize his/her chances of whizzing by an inspection. In any case, if the traveler has lied about the type of porn he/she is carrying, then throw the full weight of the law at the individual.

        Now, having said all that, if one is carrying pics of one's own relationship or non movie type content, that might be easier to overlook. If anyone is carrying multiple discs that get inspected, and their violent, or portray minors or animals or the weak and non-consenting, then such carrying persons really have not a shred of hope nor a leg to stand on. I suppose another way to portray porn is:

        household, personal non-commercial grade or utility vs cleary professionally produced or near professional with features easily lending to widespread or commercial distritution.


        Just ask the traveler to fire up or expose the devices

  3. Anonymous Coward

    The Internet? We've heard of it.

    Is there even any point to these kind of checks? What's to stop a visitor hopping on the net one way or another and simply downloading their material?

    1. Anonymous Coward


      Their new firewall, obviously... jeez! z0mg!!!111oneoneone

    2. Lord Lien
      Paris Hilton

      @ AC above.

      They are heading the way of China, in that their internet connection is monitored too.

      There are always ways around these things. But still, for a supposedly civilised country they are being class A dime bars. I feel sorry for the poor buggers now have to live with a government that seems to be taking them back to the dark ages.

      Paris because there is NO WAY she would get in down under with the cloths she wears.... the Harlot....

  4. Anonymous Coward

    One country that makes me laugh

    In order to go over and do my job (evaluate a company we are in process of acquiring to determine suitability to remain on our payroll), I have to:

    Show a chest xray,

    Provide an aids test

    Provide business ratification (no problem with that)

    Provide proof of education and certifications to perform the tasks I am going for

    Provide CV, statement from my boss and CEO of the company on why I need to do the task myself

    Provide funds in excess of AU$3000 - for a three day trip

    Provide an invitation from the company being visited

    ... and it gets sillier and sillier

    So I phone the embassy and ask why so many restrictions. "You must show that your travel is to the benefit of our society and that you won't be costing any Australian a job". Ah. So, if I don't go and we shut down the site as "unknown cost drain", this will be a preference? I think we have our solution.

    Bottom line is they think they're more at danger than the Americans, who are far more reasonable I might add given that I am of middle eastern decent!

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Yes, and the irony is...

      ...they're all bloody immigrants themselves! In the case of some of their ancestors, not even voluntary immigrants!

      How bizarre that a country founded by foreigners at some arbitrary point decided to draw a line and say "That's it! No more- we're full.".

      1. Chad H.

        You Mean..

        Just like the USA?

    2. dave 76

      re: One country that makes me laugh

      with all those requirements that you have listed, it sounds like you are applying for a permanent migration visa which is not necessary. If you just went on a normal ETA and said you were going over for 3 days for business you would not have had to do all those steps.

      1. Anonymous Coward


        One would think so, but no. The application is specifically for "Business - Short Stay (subclass 456) visa" - and yes, there is a simpler visa that EU passport holders from countries on the shitlist can get, but my passport isn't on the list.

        Two fingers.. up the nose.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      "Provide proof of education and certifications to perform the tasks I am going for"

      The ultimate irony here is that I have no qualification or certification for the job I do (IT - I have a Maths degree) and I am here on a spousal visa. However I have proved far more knowledgeable and capable than any of the IT people already employed by the company (400+ employees).

      Mindless protectionism is an entrenched way of life here - Australian Owned, Australian Made. Go look it up. The Government can't drag us back to the dark ages because that would imply that at some point we left.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    The fine is to stop...

    > Penalties for evading the law are steep: a fine of up to A$11,000 for making a false or misleading statement to a customs officer

    Presumably the fine for making misleading statements is to stop jokers who declare a stash of material and then proceed to hand over a copy of Brendan O'Connor's stock publicity photo?

  6. /dev/me


    "If something is perfectly legal in your own country, would you even think to ask when travelling to another?"

    Being Dutch...

  7. Ken 16 Silver badge

    just whip it out

    slap it on the table and get the customs team to handle the rest

  8. Martijn Bakker

    No reason to concern yourself, ma'm

    * assuming best flying doctors accent *

    We're licensed smut inspectors. You ain't got nuttin we ain't seen before.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "My advice to travellers is that if you're in doubt, find out"

    "Excuse me officer, is this porn here legal?"

    "Hmm, if you'll just follow me please.."

    And he was never seen from again

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    perhaps they should have some examples

    If you ask them what's allowed they could discretely show you an artistic nude composition or two.

    though I guess smartass remarks like "is that your wife" wouldn't go down well.

    Now if you were to ask them what's not allowed - well that'd fox 'em

  11. Winkypop Silver badge

    Stop it

    Or you'll go blind !!!

  12. Anonymous Coward

    If something is perfectly legal in your own country,

    would you even think to ask when travelling to another?

    Yes, if going to Pakistan or Japan or another totally different culture. I'd have a quick scan for the likes of Norway (pretty close to home- in fact they invaded my home a few hundred years ago- and the guys who come over here seem pretty sound)

    However, going to a country with a similarly relaxed attitude to swearing, partial nudity and the same love of (a piss weak imitation of) beer, I'd probably have considered myself pretty much safe. Or at least in a fairly legally- defensible position.

  13. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge


    What about poor little delicate Australians leaving the country - they might come to Britain and see a picture of a naked ankle and have it warp their tiny fragile minds.

    The obvious solution is to prevent any people leaving Australia - thus depriving west london of most of it's bar staff.

  14. Anonymous Coward


    "material depicting bestiality"

    I would have thought there might be plenty of home-grown given the prevalence of lonely sheep farmers.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I think you're getting Australia...

      ...confused with New Zealand.

      1. Mark 65


        I think you need to go look up the stats - it's a claim often made by Aussies against their Tasman compatriots but Australia has 10% of the Worlds sheep. Over 100 million of them. Baa-baas per human is a different story though.

      2. ratfox

        More sheep in Australia!

        Twice more, in fact.

        ...of course, per inhabitants, the proportion is reversed...

  15. pakraticus

    When did the offspring of the Puritans sent to North America

    take over Australia?

  16. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    It's OK if you're a US citizan

    "...the request by US authorities that travellers own up ... planning to come to the US to overthrow the government..."

    That's perfectly OK if you're a US citizen - otherwise anyone supporting the Tea Party would never be able to take a foreign vacation.

  17. Dr Dan Holdsworth
    Jobs Horns

    Have they not heard of encryption?

    Once again, this sounds like politicians desperately trying to pretend that encryption doesn't exist, or is trivially breakable or something. This bunch of fools seem no smarter than our home-grown morons; surely someone could quietly take them by the hand, explain how systems like Truecrypt nested encryption works and why it completely foils their laws, and just leave them somewhere to have a nice private nervous breakdown before they get along with repealing all the previous nonsense laws.

    1. dssf

      Scaring them even more with explations of TrueCrypt

      will probably make the legislators tell travelers they have to have their laptops impounded or quarrantined just as any dog or cat or other household/doomesticated animal might be. But, companies with proprietary information and individuals with personal information squirreled away in a blank partition might be told:

      "OK, then if it's a blank partition, you won't mind allocating it a drive letter volume label or partition name, would you? And, while you're at it, resize and then destroy the same, so-called empty parition."

      That's probably going to foil TrueCrypt, unles it's hiding interspersed files all between other files on an otherwise contigious, defragmented partition. On windows, drives can be EXPECTED to be fragmented, but on Linux, drives are defragged (so to speak) almost constantly in that Linux moves or copies files contiguously, and doesn't just willy-nilly scatter pieces of a file all over the drive, wasting more space with commensurately required file pointers for all those scattered clusters of files.

      This intense censoring and instilling of fear and confusion in travelers makes me wonder whether or not the Australian government question whether their acts will REALLY turn Australia into an island nation make it the but butt of "Australia's an ISLAND, not a COUNTRY".

      Just some thoughts...

  18. Ball boy


    You can't come in if you're breaking laws?

    Heck, we used the country for *law-breakers* not that long ago. How times change! ;-)

    /Flame war to follow, no doubt.

    C'mon: we won the Ashes; it's our turn to do some gloating :-))

  19. Anonymous Coward

    Of course, it's all b*llocks

    I'd always have said "nope, no porn here", even if I was carrying 1TB of San Fernando's finest. You just don't need the hassle of saying "yes" to that question, even if you have nothing dodgy, do you? But then I'd also have taken the precaution of TrueCrypting it, so the chance of getting a fine for a false declaration would be practically nil.

    Waste of time asking those questions anyway, like you say. Yes, I'm a terrorist with AIDS planning to overthrow the government. What? Why can't I come in...?

  20. The Fuzzy Wotnot

    Oh for the love of...

    If you're kiddie fiddler or like a bit of farmyard action, you generally tend to know you've crossed that line and booked your ticket to Satan's holiday resort, you're hardly likely to read a form at the border of Oz...

    "Are you are kiddie fiddler and do you have any with you? (Tick box)"

    "Duh, yeah I fancy paying a huge fine, getting time in an Oz prison and 'cut-up' down the shower block! You know what I'll tick that box!"

    Fuck me how stupid do these officials think some people are?

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Are we allowed to bring in our thingys?

    You know... the gadget, the willy, the 'Prime Minister', etc.?

    Does that have to be left at home?

  22. mark l 2 Silver badge

    Euro law

    In a lot of Euro countries (Spain is definately one) the law says you must carry photo ID at all times, now how many British tourists carry their passports down to the beach with them or round town at night. Trust me that if you piss of the Spanish police but they cant pin any particular crime on you they will get you for failing to carry photo ID if you dont have it on you

  23. asiaseen

    The Australian Government

    is merely upholding the prison visiting rules.

  24. John A Blackley

    Are you carrying any porn, Sir?

    If I am, how much are you offering for it?

  25. Adrian Esdaile
    Black Helicopters

    Your papers are in order?


    "In the meantime, cynics are suggesting that the question is about as helpful as the request by US authorities that travellers own up to whether they are a member of a terrorist organisation - or are planning to come to the US to overthrow the government."

    EXCEPT that if the Customs tuckfard is suspicious of you, or is having a bad day, or is just one of the 80% fat angry bastards we seem to use as Customs officials (the other 10% being butch stone-faced women), they can demand to see everything on your phone / laptop / usb drives. Expect to be late for your meeting, or have your digital stuff confiscated, then sent to you 2 weeks later, ruined with erased drives.

    I've had the whole third degree because I was 'suspicious' because my passport had got wet (Chicago rainstorm).

    You have been warned. Better yet, don't come here or do business with Australia. Go somewhere nicer, like China or Saudi Arabia.

  26. Anonymous Coward

    This country is stupid

    This one's just to complement all our other stupid laws that no sane person could reason with. Now we have the whole set!

    Don't try to come to any form of reason for just about any of our laws here you'll end up very depressed and disillusioned. Additionally, the arrogance and contempt for the public that our politicians have here is staggering.

    The public and I.T. industry have very publicly voiced serious discontent with the firewall proposal and the whole net nanny issue no end. Still, the government continues to push this crap uphill, touting it as a "great moral issue". I call foul. Since when do politicians have morals? They are not put in power to act on their feelings - they are meant to be there to enact the consensus will of the people. In a true democracy anyhow - just goes to show that's NOT the system we have.

    At least I can smile that the lawmakers / politicians & bureaucrats are just showing off how they really have NFI about "the internet".

    I would assume the vast majority of deemed illegal porn out and about is obtainable via the 'net. So why would a kiddie porn peddler have reason to import this crap through Australian Customs physically - are the powers that be really that dense? I think it's obvious that if a foreigner or returning national really wanted access to said materiel after entering the country *and they know it's illegal material here* - the easiest solution would be to put the content on a server, encrypted or not, coming through customs, then access the material once again.

    Hell - they could probably be accessing it soon as they are through customs @ the airport over a wifi/mobile link if they wanted it that bad.

    But I forgot that our soon to be implemented mandatory filter is going to "protect us all" from all the nasty RC materiel on the big bad internet ... all under the guise of the cheapest trick in the book "think of the children" - but that's not the only thing they aim to censor.. they won't even publish the black list. We will undoubtly have sites silently blocked for political views/free speech - it's the enevitable result of a power crazy government.

    I'm betting we'll only get absolute minimal effect in fighting these crimes (at great expense to me and other taxpayers).

    I would even go as far to apologise in advance to all the innocent (majority of travellers) who will be feeling frustration and embarrassment via having their private lives so openly violated by my country.

    OZ is becoming quite the joke. P.S. Sorry for the above book - had to get it out of my system after reading this.

  27. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    The Naked Truth is that Most have No Idea what they are Missing in Denial of Pleasure's Treasure

    Whom do porn stars confuse when all are beautifully satisfied and contented with performance?

  28. Loki 1


    Its like the question on the US visa form, something like "Are you, or have you ever been part of, or associated with, a terrorist organization?"

    I mean, you would have to be really dumb to check that box. It would just get you a free flight to gitmo to be held indefinitely without trial.

    If you tick the box about porn you can at best be expected to be delayed in your travels, possibly have your laptop taken for investigation for several days/weeks, possibly returned completely trashed, and at worst either denied entry or paying a visit to the local cop shop for interrogation and possibly (if really nasty stuff) a stay as a guest of her majesty in prison.

    So, just don't tick the bloody box. Who will ever know?

    "Sir, can you show us your porn?"

    "I don't have any porn on my computer"

    "Sir, obstructing a customs officer in his duty is a booting* office, now show me the porn"

    "But, i really don't have any"

    "Sir, you are a human male, aged between 1 and dead and carrying a laptop, we know you have porn"

    "Ok, you got me, its in C:\porn"

    "Thank you sir, we would never have thought of looking th..... Oh my f**king god. Two people having sex missionary! Get out of our country you pervert!!!"

    * - simpsons reference for those who wondered.

  29. Tempest

    Australian immigration worse than the US Homeland mob

    The Australian welcoming committee are ill-mannered and unfriendly, even worse than the US Homeland brain-deads at New York Airports.

    They Australians really give visitors a going over - they even confiscated a friend's mosquito zapper - even though they were on sale in the shops.

    How can someone judge what some narrow minded politician considers 'porn' which might be acceptable, legally, by others. Reminds me of the old Lady Chatterly's Lover arguments.

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