Australian Government to Censor Internet Access

I just saw this this morning (emphasis mine):

THE Federal Government is planning to make internet censorship compulsory for all Australians and could ban controversial websites on euthanasia or anorexia.Australia’s level of net censorship will put it in the same league as countries including China, Cuba, Iran and North Korea, and the Government will not let users opt out of the proposed national internet filter when it is introduced.Broadband, Communications and Digital Economy Minister Stephen Conroy admitted the Federal Government’s $44.2 million internet censorship plan would now include two tiers – one level of mandatory filtering for all Australians and an optional level that will provide a “clean feed”, censoring adult material….Groups including the System Administrators Guild of Australia and Electronic Frontiers Australia have slammed the proposal, saying it would unfairly restrict Australians’ access to the web, slow internet speeds and raise the price of internet access. ¬†EFA board member Colin Jacobs said it would have little effect on illegal internet content, including child pornography, as it would not cover peer-to-peer file-sharing networks.

Aside from the obvious issues regarding censorship and freedom of speech (something not constitutionally enshrined in Australia and therefore not ensured) this is a very bad idea. This will at a minimum,

  • introduce a ‘state approved’ perspective on reality which can then be more readily extended,
  • generate network inefficiencies for most of us, and for those who actually want to get to what is blocked, they will work it out (even most primary school kids I talk to these days know how to get around access restrictions imposed upon them).

To draw upon that a classic web quote attributed to John Gilmore: “The net treats censorship as damage and routes around it”.I thought this kind of logic would depart our federal government with the Howard administration! Apparently I was wrong.And why isn’t this making bigger news? Perhaps mass media doesn’t care? – after all, the medium is the message – i.e. if you’re interests and life are all bound up in broadcast (push) media, perhaps you aren’t so likely to care about distributed media etc?..

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