Mandatory internet filtering in Australia

This is copied from an email I recently sent out to everyone in my address book

Mandatory internet filtering – I actually thought this issue was over with, but it appears I was wrong.

If you’re not already aware of the issue (which is probably unlikely), there’s a factsheet from GetUp

The latest news here is that the secret blacklist (which is secret – Freedom of Information laws have been modified to deny any kind of public oversight) has been leaked, and contains all kinds of nasty stuff, but also a fair amount of relatively benign stuff: “a slew of online poker sites, YouTube links, regular gay and straight porn sites, Wikipedia entries, euthanasia sites, websites of fringe religions such as satanic sites, fetish sites, Christian sites, the website of a tour operator and even a Queensland dentist.” The Age

The general concern is that this would be a secret, unaccountable system, a ‘loaded gun’ that could too-easily be subverted (Thailand’s internet content was originally intended just to filter out child pornography, but is now apparently used to silence sites that criticise the royal family). No western democracy has gone down this path before. Already it has been reported that there’s very little accountability to the blacklist administration process (“They have absolutely no review process whatsoever; the decision to ban content is final, and there is no judicial oversight. The decision is made by a single ACMA staffer, even someone part of a graduate process…” The Age)

That’s the worst of it – there’re other issues about the filter raising the cost of Internet access, and slowing down the Internet ‘up to 87%’.

GetUp has a petition in progress – I recommend that you sign it, if you feel so inclined:

If you’re as angry about this stuff as I am, I recommend writing a letter to Senator Conroy, as well (I wrote this one). His email address is [email protected].

Wikileaks, the website set up to hold documents submitted anonymously by whistleblowers, has apparently been brought to its knees by the huge number of requests from people looking at the leaked blacklist. Does anyone else find it hilarious that the very content the government has been trying to censor has now had a huge spotlight focused on it? Oh, man…

The summary on the Wikileaks page regarding the ACMA’s blacklist is worth a read, too. “…History shows that secret censorship systems, whatever their original intent, are invariably corrupted into anti-democratic behavior.”

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