Australian Government goes to war with Google over net censorship  

Posted by Big Gav in , , ,

The Age has a report on the Australian government's outrageous plans to introduce mandatory internet censoring, led by conrol freak communications minister Stephen Conroy - Government goes to war with Google over net censorship

The government intends to introduce legislation within weeks forcing all ISPs to block a blacklist of "refused classification" websites for all Australians ... a large and growing group of academics, technology companies and lobby groups say the scope of the filters is too broad and will not make a meaningful impact on internet safety for children. ..

Google, which has recently been involved in a censorship spat with China, has been one of the filtering policy's harshest critics. It has identified a range of politically sensitive and innocuous material, such as sexual health discussions and discussions on euthanasia, which could be blocked by the filters.

Last week, it said it had held discussions with users and parents around Australia and "the strong view from parents was that the government's proposal goes too far and would take away their freedom of choice around what information they and their children can access".

Google also said implementing mandatory filtering across Australia's millions of internet users could "negatively impact user access speeds", while filtering material from high-volume sites such as Wikipedia, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter "appears not to be technologically possible as it would have such a serious impact on internet access".

"We have a number of other concerns, including that filtering may give a false sense of security to parents, it could damage Australia's international reputation and it can be easily circumvented," Google wrote.

On ABC Radio last night, the majority of callers were opposed to the filters and right before the end of the segment, Senator Conroy attacked Google over its privacy credentials. ...

Senator Conroy also said he was not aware of the US State Department contacting his office or that of the Foreign Minister, Stephen Smith, over the internet filters. This contradicts a statement made by a US State Department spokesman yesterday.

"Our main message of course is that we remain committed to advancing the free flow of information which we view as vital to economic prosperity and preserving open societies globally," a U.S. State Department spokesman Michael Tran told The Associated Press. ...

Senator Conroy argues the he is only attempting to apply the same restrictions placed on the distribution of books, magazines, DVDs and other content to the internet.

But critics say this approach fails to consider that the internet is a vastly different, dynamic medium. They say Senator Conroy's proposal is a heavy-handed measure that is easily bypassed by criminals and could restrict access to legal information.

Senator Conroy has conceded that greater transparency is needed in terms of how content ends up on the blacklist, but last night he again refused to make the blacklist itself public, saying it would provide people instant access to the banned material.

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