Australian Internet Censorship Plan Meeting Heavy Criticism

Dennis Faas's picture

Trials of Australia's mandatory censorship program will begin soon -- details of which the government is refusing to reveal -- despite a high-level report to the Rudd government that found the technology simply does not work, will significantly slow Internet speeds, and will block access to legitimate websites.

Recently it was announced that Australia would implement mandatory Internet censorship as a way to combat child pornography and adult content. However, this strategy could be extended to include controversial websites focusing on topics like euthanasia or anorexia. Australian users would not be able to opt out of the proposed national Internet filter. (Source:

The government refuses to reveal details about its trials and the names of those ISPs who volunteered for the program are not known. The six-week trial periods will be completed by the middle of next year. (Source:

The Internet Industry Association report, commissioned by the Howard government, concludes that schemes to block inappropriate content such as child pornography are fundamentally flawed. Most of the details in the report received by the government have also been kept secret. Approximately $44 million is earmarked by the government to impose a compulsory "clean feed" on all Internet subscribers in Australia as early as late 2009 if the "trials" are deemed a success.

According to the report, filters would slow the Internet by as much as 87 percent in some cases, be easily bypassed and would not come close to capturing all the nasty content available online. Legitimate sites would be blocked as the government struggles to determine wanted and unwanted content. Sites such as YouTube and Wikipedia could be censored over a single 'suspect' posting.

More information on the fundamental flaws of the report, which is based on comprehensive interviews with many parties and was written by several independent technical experts, can be found in an article from The Sydney Morning Herald. (Source:

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