Monday, November 17, 2008

A censored Internet

The Australian Federal Government is planning to censor the whole of the Internet. This is not just about providing a "child-safe" version of the Internet; that is only part of the plan.

The other, and really objectionable, part is to censor the Internet for everyone, by requiring all Australian Internet Service Providers to block sites on a secret Government blacklist. The Government is also trialling "dynamic" filtering, which attempts to block sites on-the-fly on the basis of content.

As has been pointed out, this will do nothing to block pornographers, who have plenty of ways of evading filters. What it will do is:
  • Slow down the Internet and make it more expensive for everyone. (Of course it is already slow and expensive compared to what is available in other advanced countries.)
  • Block at least 1% of sites that have nothing objectionable, because the filtering software got it wrong. (1% is the lowest figure in the trial referred to below.)
  • Give the Government extraordinary power to control what we can view.
  • Give the Government the ability to read our bank information and the like, as the https protocol can be read by filtering software.
  • Possibly give the Government power to censor email as well as websites, as one of the filters trialled by the Government has this ability.
Despite Government denials, this looks like the Great Firewall of Australia to me, and to a lot of other people.

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