Aussie Govt Pushes Mandatory Internet Filtering to ‘Protect Children’

Plan requires ISPs to block pornography and other objectionable sites, and requires users who want uncensored access to formally opt out.

In a odd twist of fate, efforts to get ISPs to install content filters seems to be all the rage these days in supposedly freedom loving countries. After years of criticizing China over it’s almost iron fist-like control over internet access in that country, an increasing number of Western countries now find themselves pushing to institute similar content restricting mechanisms.

With efforts already under way in the UK and France, now comes a report that Australia is also working to get it’s ISPs to begin filtering the internet. The country’s Telecommunications Minister Stephen Conroy wants them to begin providing so-called “clean feeds” to homes and schools in order to protect children.

Individual users would be able to opt-out of the service and receive unfiltered content, and Senator Conroy rejected criticism from civil liberties groups that state regulation of internet access damaged civil liberties.

“Labor makes no apologies to those that argue that any regulation of the internet is like going down the Chinese road,” he said.

“If people equate freedom of speech with watching child pornography, then the Rudd-Labor Government is going to disagree.”

Luckily for users though, Senator Conroy is concerned about connection speeds, even if it means connecting to a limited Disney-esque version of the internet.

“There are people who are going to make all sorts of statements about the impact on the [internet] speed,” he said.

“The internet hasn’t ground to a halt in the UK, it hasn’t ground to a halt in Scandinavian countries and it’s not grinding the internet to a halt in Europe.

“But that is why we are engaged constructively with the sector, engaging in trials to find a way to implement this in the best possible way and to work with the sector.”

The only questions I have in all of this are who gets to decide what sites are included on the blacklist, and what’s the criteria for defining what a violent or pornographic website is? Some may find boxing violent, and others may not. Some may find sites like Maxim to be pornographic and others may not. This may be crucial to to the plan’s success or failure.

People in other countries are oftentimes bewildered by the intrusiveness of our govt and by the power of our corporate interests, but in this case it seems we and our Bill of Rights come out on top for a change.