The Null Device

Bipartisan support for Australian internet firewall

Looks like the Australian national internet firewall is one step closer, with the Tories moving to support it.
But yesterday Senator Coonan's spokeswoman said "the Government has not ruled out ISP-based filtering and is currently undertaking a trial in Tasmania in conjunction with the internet safety agency NetAlert".
It looks like Australians' days of free unfiltered internet access are numbered, and soon they will have to sign a "perverts' register" to get access to things not deemed suitable for children (which would not merely mean hardcore porn, but any sites that do not restrict themselves to themes suitable for children; for example, Boing Boing would almost certainly be blocked, as it is in the United Arab Emirates and such). And, with the infrastructure of censorship in place, chances are access to content not deemed suitable for Australians (such as parodies of government web sites) could be blocked to everyone.

Of course, the national firewall isn't law yet, though given the amount of pressure there is on all parties from the wowsers and religious conservatives (who have become very well organised, as in the U.S.), it stands a good chance of becoming so unless those who believe in an open internet stand up and be heard. Electronic Frontiers Australia is one group opposing this scheme.

There are 2 comments on "Bipartisan support for Australian internet firewall":

Posted by: steff http://ofterdingenandkro Thu Mar 23 23:40:04 2006

This is bad news indeed. Since the "media" in Australia already filters content to suit their agenda, a great firewall of China-type would a strong reason to leave Australia.

Posted by: gjw Wed Mar 29 12:12:09 2006

Interestingly, I was listening to the parlimentary broadcast a few days ago, where I heard a liberal senator speaking on this issue. Apparently, the Labor party supports ISP based filtering, and was attacking the Liberals because their current priority was still home-based filtering. The Liberal senator spoke on the Tasmanian trial, saying that it didn't really work...three quarters of the "inappropriate" test content got through, and it slowed other traffic down to a crawl. The point of view of the Liberal party appears to be that current technology limits the usefulness of filters like this. The Labor party also supports these sorts of filters, once they become viable. A great reason why I vote for the Greens.

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