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Australia to implement mandatory internet censorship

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    Australia to implement mandatory internet censorship October 29, 2008 http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,24568137-2862,00.html AUSTRALIA will join
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 2, 2008
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      Australia to implement mandatory internet censorship
      October 29, 2008
      http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,24568137-2862,00.html


      AUSTRALIA will join China in implementing mandatory censoring of the
      internet under plans put forward by the Federal Government.

      The revelations emerge as US tech giants Google, Microsoft and Yahoo,
      and a coalition of human rights and other groups unveiled a code of
      conduct aimed at safeguarding online freedom of speech and privacy.

      The government has declared it will not let internet users opt out of
      the proposed national internet filter.

      The plan was first created as a way to combat child pronography and
      adult content, but could be extended to include controversial
      websites on euthanasia or anorexia.

      Communications minister Stephen Conroy revealed the mandatory
      censorship to the Senate estimates committee as the Global Network
      Initiative, bringing together leading companies, human rights
      organisations, academics and investors, committed the technology
      firms to "protect the freedom of expression and privacy rights of
      their users".

      Mr Conroy said trials were yet to be carried out, but "we are talking
      about mandatory blocking, where possible, of illegal material."

      The net nanny proposal was originally going to allow Australians who
      wanted uncensored access to the web the option of contacting their
      internet service provider to be excluded from the service.

      Human Rights Watch has condemned internet censorship, and argued to
      the US Senate "there is a real danger of a Virtual Curtain dividing
      the internet, much as the Iron Curtain did during the Cold War,
      because some governments fear the potential of the internet, (and)
      want to control it"

      Groups including the System Administrators Guild of Australia and
      Electronic Frontiers Australia have attacked the proposal, saying it
      would unfairly restrict Australians' access to the web, slow internet
      speeds and raise the price of internet access.

      EFA board member Colin Jacobs said it would have little effect on
      illegal internet content, including child pornography, as it would
      not cover file-sharing networks.

      "If the Government would actually come out and say we're only
      targeting child pornography it would be a different debate," he said.

      The technology companies' move, which follows criticism that the
      companies were assisting censorship of the internet in nations such
      as China, requires them to narrowly interpret government requests for
      information or censorship and to fight to minimise cooperation.

      The initiative provides a systematic approach to "work together in
      resisting efforts by governments that seek to enlist companies in
      acts of censorship and surveillance that violate international
      standards", the participants said.

      In a statement, Yahoo co-founder and chief executive Jerry Yang
      welcomed the new code of conduct.

      "These principles provide a valuable roadmap for companies like Yahoo
      operating in markets where freedom of expression and privacy are
      unfairly restricted," he said.

      "Yahoo was founded on the belief that promoting access to information
      can enrich people's lives, and the principles we unveil today reflect
      our determination that our actions match our values around the
      world."

      Yahoo was thrust into the forefront of the online rights issue after
      the Californian company helped Chinese police identify cyber
      dissidents whose supposed crime was expressing their views online.

      China exercises strict control over the internet, blocking sites
      linked to Chinese dissidents, the outlawed Falun Gong spiritual
      movement, the Tibetan government-in-exile and those with information
      on the 1989 Tiananmen massacre.

      A number of US companies, including Microsoft, Cisco, Google and
      Yahoo, have been hauled before the US Congress in recent years and
      accused of complicity in building the "Great Firewall of China".

      The Australian Christian Lobby, however, has welcomed the proposals.

      Managing director Jim Wallace said the measures were needed.

      "The need to prevent access to illegal hard-core material and child
      pornography must be placed above the industry's desire for unfettered
      access," Mr Wallace said.

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