Australia PM backs controversial Web filter

Oct 12, 2010
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has renewed her backing for a controversial Internet filter, saying it was driven by a "moral question".

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard Tuesday renewed her backing for a controversial Internet filter, saying it was driven by a "moral question".

The proposed filter will block access to material such as rape, drug use, bestiality and child sex abuse, and will be administered by companies.

However, web giants like , Yahoo! and Microsoft have slammed the initiative as setting a precedent for censorship, while cyber-activists have hit government websites with a targeted hacking campaign.

"My fundamental outlook is this: it is unlawful for me as an adult to go to a cinema and watch certain sorts of content, it's unlawful and we believe it to be wrong," Gillard said in a press club address.

"If we accept that then it seems to me that the moral question is not changed by the medium that the images come through."

The plan, which has also drawn concern from the US State Department, was put on hold pending a content review in July as national elections loomed.

Angry user groups have launched an online campaign accusing the government of censorship, likening the proposed system to firewalls operating in China and Iran.

Concerns have also been raised about the filter's impact on Internet speeds and the methods through which restricted content would be determined.

Gillard said how to set up the filter "is more complicated, but the underpinning moral question is, I think, exactly the same".

A review of what material should be excluded by the filter is expected to take at least 12 months.

Explore further: Second apparent leak of hacked celebrity nude pictures: US media

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tigger
5 / 5 (5) Oct 12, 2010
Yeah good luck with that Julia. People that really want to look at said stuff will use any of the many loopholes in any filter you set up. And for that pointless exercise you'll waste many tax payers dollars and the time and energy of internet service providers and slow networks down... basically it's a bloody stupid idea.
Sinister181
5 / 5 (2) Oct 12, 2010
Could not agree more. It makes me both angry and disappointed to hear about this. I can't make this clear enough for these people to understand - WE DON'T NEED AN INTERNET FILTER/CENSORSHIP. After all, we're not babies, and we don't need the government to hold our hands. I, for one, did not vote for Labor this year. And probably won't in the future either.
DamienS
4.5 / 5 (4) Oct 12, 2010
The sites they want to ban (child porn, snuff flicks, etc) cannot be readily accessed anyway by normal url browsing. These types of sites operate mainly by p2p and private networks - something a filter would not touch at all.

But what's really nasty about this proposal is that the list of sites that are banned will not be made public, so no one can tell what's being censored and what isn't. If the government decides to censor other content because it may be politically embarrassing or expedient, no one will ever know because they're basically saying, trust us to do the right thing!

This really should have been a bigger deal in this past election, but it seems to have been largely overlooked as a geek issue. Oh well, the government may not last long due to the narrowness of victory, so hopefully the people of Aust will pick the right government next time.
sams
5 / 5 (5) Oct 12, 2010
Make no mistake - it is driven by the (ACL) Australian Christian Lobby and back room pre-election deals between them and the Labor party. Following Gillard's (faulty) reasoning then sooner or later any form of communication through wich a "wrong" images might be transmitted must be filtered. This of course includes email, online chat and peer-to-peer networks. Why not the postal service and telephone lines after that ..
gopher65
4.5 / 5 (4) Oct 12, 2010
I understand the impetus to act against things like child porn. I really do. The problem is that the currently proposed system won't work at all, and will actually end up harming legitimate users.

The proposed system strikes me as acting in a fashion similar to DRM or airport security. IE, it will hinder, harm, frustrate, and slow normal people, while doing nothing whatsoever to stop the criminals that it is suppose to be targeting.

And that's just wrong. When designing a policing system, it should be of paramount importance that the policing system act primarily upon criminals, and not upon the public at large. Anything else is unacceptable.
Corban
5 / 5 (3) Oct 12, 2010
If only the censorship stopped there, but it never does. Hence, it's unacceptable.
dirk_bruere
5 / 5 (2) Oct 12, 2010
The answer to all of this crap is to access the Net through proxies. I can see that becoming a big consumer growth area in the near future. See iPredator, for example.
scenage
5 / 5 (2) Oct 12, 2010
In agreement with everyone so far.
I'm really disappointed in the labor party and also the fact that they aren't telling the entire truth. A few months back they provided a list of sites they wanted to ban. Some were ridiculous and they had no reason to ban them whatsoever...
rexalfielee
5 / 5 (2) Oct 13, 2010
The only time so far I've disagreed with the PM. What she may not understand, being new to the job is that this isn't about paedophiles at all, rather about control & power. Get off of this & wake up. If the paeds can access their "lovely" images you can catch them but if you shut them out then they'll find a way around that & one less likely to be able to be caught.

Conjob's filter is just Big Brother getting involved. Leave it alone.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (1) Oct 13, 2010
When you look at the list the majority of items filtered are sites dedicated to pointing out religious fallacy or whistleblowing on government cronyism.

What a sad day.