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Monday, 15 February 2010 16:28

Conroy faces off with Google on censorship

By
The Rudd Government has played down search giant Google's reluctance to voluntarily assist in censoring Refused Classification material from the internet, saying the company would clearly be required to comply with the new laws when they come in effect anyway.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy restated the Rudd Government's determination to proceed with its mandatory filtering plans, with the legislation still scheduled to be put to the Parliament in the autumn sitting sessions.

"The Government remains firmly committed to its policy for the introduction of mandatory ISP filtering for RC rated content. This is content which the Australian Parliament has determined to be offensive and not appropriate for a civilised society," a spokeswoman for Senator Conroy said.

"The Government has indicated that it will legislate to give effect to this policy and we expect people, as is the case with any law, to comply," she said.

Google said last week that while it had been in ongoing discussions with the Federal Government over content regulation issues, it was reluctant to remove content under a regime it said allowed for definitions of offensive material that were too broad.

In relation to discussion that sought the company's help in voluntarily censoring material from its YouTube video service, Google Australia head of policy Iarla Flynn said YouTube was a platform for freedom of expression and that while the company would always abide by local laws in the countries it operated, openness was its default position.


"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," Google's Flynn said.

Senator Conroy's office said Government continued to hold discussions with the industry on how the RC filtering program would work, and regardless of any voluntary scheme, these service provider would be required to comply with the new laws once the filtering legislation is passed.

"Clearly we cannot insist upon Google taking part in a voluntary process," Senator Conroy's spokeswoman said.

"However, we remain open to working with content owners on alternative arrangements, consistent with our policy, to avoid material on their sites being added to the RC content list."
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