The Null Device

Google dares to be un-Australian

The Australian government asked Google to block Australian users from accessing YouTube content which would be illegal in Australia, which would include material promoting euthanasia, graffiti and safer drug use, on the grounds that they already do similar things in China. Google, thankfully, tells the government to go jump.
University of Sydney associate professor Bjorn Landfeldt, one of Australia's top communications experts, said that to comply with Conroy's request Google "would have to install a filter along the lines of what they actually have in China".
"What we're saying is, well in Australia, these are our laws and we'd like you to apply our laws," Conroy said. "Google at the moment filters an enormous amount of material on behalf of the Chinese government; they filter an enormous amount of material on behalf of the Thai government."
The government is set to introduce laws forcing all ISPs in Australia to filter all internet traffic, which, unless something unexpected happens, will be law before the 2011 election. (There is plenty of opposition to it, but it all falls into the easily-ignored basket, and psephologists say that internet censorship could only become an issue in two electorates—the inner-city seats of Sydney and Melbourne.) The problem with this is that blocking YouTube altogether would be a bridge too far (the Australian public may be legendarily apathetic, but if you take away their funny cat videos, there'll be hell to pay), and selectively filtering traffic to YouTube would slow it down unacceptably.

Let's hope that Google stick to their guns here.

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