Internet Censure — Big Brother in our neck of the woods?

By John Nixon 17/12/2009

A battle of words is raging in Australia over the Government’s decision to impose internet filtering, ie censure on the web sites we are allowed to visit. The right of free speech seems to be fragile under the present Minister Steve Conroy and his Labour majority.
Here are some of the comments published yesterday and today:

“Welcome to National Censorship Day”
’Conroy’s blind adherence to his net filtering plan will abandon net neutrality ideals and push ISPs down a slippery slope of unprecedented responsibility for a callously politicised Australian internet.’
’Brave Labor MP rejects Conroy’s filter plan’
’NSW Labor MP Penny Sharpe has slammed her Federal colleagues’ plan to censor the internet.
Sharpe said the announcement was “a backward step” that, if adopted, would be “a triumph of fear and false promise [over] good sense”
’The Australian Government’s plan for mandatory filtering of a broad range of ‘refused classification content’ will put Australia at odds with almost every other liberal Western democracy and align it with states such as Belarus, Eritrea, The UAE, Yemen and Zimbabwe that force all ISPs to remove ‘inappropriate content’ from their services, according to a new research study.’

Anybody who has tried to use the internet in China would have encountered the nonsensical blocking of innocent sites which have no political bias or cultural sensitivity. Some public servant in a back room just decides that this or that site is not good for local consumption and bingo, its gone!
It will be a sad day if Australia adopts this course. And I hope that Wellington is not even thinking about it.

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