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Tuesday, 30 March 2010 20:20

Captain Conroy, Internet Enforcer, slams Google

By

Australia's Minister for Censorship, Senator Stephen Conroy, has slammed Google for its efforts to make the Australian Government see sense in its efforts to cloak Australia with the great Big Brother firewall of Australia.


OPINION: In an interesting radio debate last night on Australia's ABC Radio, Senator Stephen Conroy, the Australian Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, slammed Google for standing up against government imposed censorship.

(Update: China has just blocked Google, will Australia follow suit?)

Using some recent quotes from Google's CEO Eric Schmidt, which did somewhat chillingly suggest that if you were doing things on the Internet that you didn't want others to know about then perhaps you shouldn't be doing it in the first place, as well as quoting Google's 'Do No Evil' statement, Conroy poured scorn and doubt over Google's anti-censorship credentials, bona-fides and essentially its right to have and issue its opinion on the topic.

Of course, Google has recently been in the news for leaving part of the Chinese market, diverting its Chinese Google search engine to one in Hong Kong, and making a great play over the fact Chinese censorship wasn't something Google wanted to be part of, giving Google great cred in the anti-censorship debate.

That said, iTWire's own James Riley has explained that Google is the world's biggest filter, which has its own issues, but if it comes down to a fight between Google and forced censorship by the Australian government, many Australians seem to be siding with Google.

The Australian Government does say that its filter will block already banned material that has been refused classification in other mediums, and that the Internet shouldn't be treated as a special case, but it's clear that the Internet IS a special case when compared with the traditional one-way mediums that books, TV, magazines, DVDs and radio generally are.

There's also great doubt over whether any government can be trusted to keep its promises, for so many are broken by all sides of politics, whether it comes to lowering taxes, avoiding scandals, spending money wisely or telling it like it is, rather than the political waffle we're all used to when a politician opens his or her mouth.

Add to this tsunami of doubt is the doubt that governments can be trusted to stick to censoring only refused classification material, with any government that has the ability to censor an entire country's Internet network also having the ability to censor political opponents or any site or sites it simply doesn't agree with, for whatever reason.

Naturally politicians will promise never to do this, but again, given the propensity with which politicians make promises and then break them, no matter which side of politics they belong to, and it's really clear as day why Australians simply don't trust the filtering proposal, especially when there already exists a wealth of free and paid filtering programs and even ISPs who already offered filtered content.

Continued on page two - if it hasn't already been censored by the Australian Government. Click through to find out!



There's also Senator Conroy's refusal to let Australians know what material is being blacklisted, something that would apparently give Australians access to those banned sites.

Hey, if the filter ends up in place, aren't those sites supposed to be blocked? If the filter actually ends up working as advertised (something that would be a first for a Government project), letting Australians see that list would ensure transparency and would assure Australians that what is being blocked truly is refused classification materials, and not some dentist in Queensland or health information that the previously leaked blocked sites list demonstrated.

Ultimately, despite all the talk of saving the children and banning material that is refused classification, the great fear is that the Government wants to extend its tendrils of control ever further into the lives of everyday Australians, while claiming that it is simply doing so for the people's own protection.

With so many other massively important projects for the Government to contend with, such as reducing Australia's ballooning debt, massively speeding up the delivery of the promised national broadband network, cutting red tape and reducing taxes on an overtaxed population, fixing up the hospitals, roads, relatively useless state governments, national defence, schools and more, Australia's government instead wants to meddle with your Internet connection as though it was the most pressing and important of issues.

Great. Just what we need - another bunch of world improvers, most with very little experience in running their own profit-generating businesses, who want to lord it over ever more aspects of YOUR life - under the auspices of saving the children and blocking material that is effectively already banned.

Please, Senator Conroy, you have so many more important things to do than to impose draconian censorship controls, can't you please do those things and stop threatening freedom as we know it?

Thanks.

(Update: China has blocked Google, will Australia follow suit?)

 

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

Alex Zaharov-Reutt is iTWire's Technology Editor is one of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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