Home opinion-and-analysis Fuzzy Logic ISP-imposed censorship coming to Australia next month

ISP-imposed censorship coming to Australia next month

Two of Australia's biggest ISPs (and telcos), Telstra and Optus, will commence 'voluntary' censorship of 500 websites to defend against 'child abuse', even though the child abusers moved off the standard web a long time ago to a galaxy of underground webs far, far away from what you'll find on Google.

Any Australian stupid enough to search the Internet for child abuse material is not only stupid on many levels, but will soon find that 500 sites with child abuse material will no longer appear if access is attempted via Telstra or Optus.

These are the only two ISPs to be named, although media reports suggest that some smaller ISPs are also in on the self-censorship act.

The big concern with any form of censorship is not only where it starts, and for what reasons, but where it ends - and whether freedom has ended up being censored alongside obviously ultra-objectional material such as the filth of child abuse.

Naturally, child abuse materials are already banned, with the police already empowered to come down on you like the proverbial ton of bricks if you're the aforementioned 'stupid'.

Indeed, you'd think that ISPs and the authorities would have ways of tracking people stupid enough to search for such information online without needing to censor it.

According to a news report from News.com.au, a spokesperson from Australia's Federal Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy said that: 'The ACMA will compile and manage a list of URLs of child abuse content that will include the appropriate subsection of the ACMA blacklist as well as child abuse URLs that are provided by reputable international organisations (to be blocked)'.

ACMA is the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

The move for ISPs to self-censor comes despite the Australian Federal Government's failure to get its all-encompassing national Internet filter in place, but while that filter proposal is down and out, no-one doubts Federal Communications Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy's desire to see the 'big government' solution of a filter in place, despite the enormous backlash from everyday Australians to yet more government intrusion into their lives.

So, although the Australian Government utterly failed in its attempt to breathe life into its own 'Great Firewall of Australia', censorship has still managed to sneak through, requiring Australians to be ever more vigilant in protecting their hard-fought, hard-won and hard-defended freedoms.

 

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

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.