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Friday, 12 February 2010 21:28

YouTube offers clean feed as Google says 'No Minister'

By
Just as search giant Google flatly rejected an overt call from Communications Minister Stephen Conroy to assist Government's internet filtering plans, the company has launched its own 'clean feed'-style safety mode for its YouTube video service.

Google Australia said it had been in ongoing talks recently with government over content issues, but has made clear its clear preference is to promote freedom of expression.

Google Australia delivered its formal submission to Senator Conroy's public consultation on the internet filter plan late this afternoon, just ahead of the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy's deadline. It is not yet clear whether all submissions will be made public.

The company is known to have been alarmed at comments made by Senator Conroy during an interview on the ABC's Hungry Beast program on Wednesday in which the Minister suggested Google may censor material on behalf of Government in the same way the company does on behalf of Chinese and Thai governments.

Google Australia head of policy Iarla Flynn issued a statement earlier today declaring the YouTube was a platform for free expression and that the company had clear policies about what is allowed and not allowed on the site.


But the company does not explicitly say it won't assist with the Government with its filtering objectives, and discussions between the company and Senator Conroy's office are thought to have hinged on definitions and process.

"Like all law-abiding companies, YouTube complies with the laws in the countries in which we operate," Flynn said.

"When we receive a valid legal request like a court order to remove content alleged to violate local laws, we first check that the request meets both the letter and spirit of the law, and we will seek to narrow it if the request is overly broad," he said.

YouTube yesterday launched its own 'Safety Mode' feature to its service as an opt-in setting that helps to filter out potentially objectionable content.

Google Australia associate product manager Jamie Davidson said in a blog post on the corporate web site that an example of objectionable material "might be a newsworthy video that contains graphic violence such as a political protest or war coverage."

"Safety Mode is another step in our ongoing desire to give you greater control over the content you see on the site," Davidson said.
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