Australia delays controversial web-filtering

Hopefully, they’ll delay web-filtering permanently … or there goes the openness and freedom of the internet.

The Australian government is delaying the implementation of controversial web-filtering to conduct an independent review of websites that are due to be blocked the BBC has reported.

The filter is part of a long-standing plan by the Australian government to block the countries access to dangerous and inappropriate web content, but it has come under repeated attack from Internet and privacy activists who claim that it is a breach of people’s civil liberties and human rights.

The country’s Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, said the review was needed to see if the scheme “reflects current community standards”.

He said the review would look at what content should fall under the “refused classification” rating that would result in it being banned.  The Australian government has yet to vote on making the censorship mandatory for all ISPs.

In Australia, films that feature a high level of sexual or violent content or that deal with “drug misuse, addiction, crime, cruelty, violence or revolting or abhorrent phenomena” and that “offend the standards of morality” are rated RC and banned.  This rating system also applies to video games but critics argue that it is not appropriate to apply the same rules to the Internet.

The move would make Australia the world’s only democratic country to block portions of the Internet.  The only other countries to do so tend to be communist or oppressive regimes such as China and North Korea.

While the idea behind the move, which would make it much harder for people to access images of, for instance, child abuse is laudable, the move is still seen as deeply unpopular with one Australian Senator suggesting that the review is a way to “clear away bad news” in the run up to a general Election.


© Mike Halsey for gHacks Technology News, 2010. | Permalink | Add to del.icio.us, digg, facebook, reddit, twitter
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