Child pornography ushers Internet censorship into Australia

Child pornography ushers Internet censorship into Australia

But it has some problems: it only applies to some service providers, it's easy to sidestep and the list includes more than child pornography
child pornography
Over 1,000 websites have been blacklisted by the Australian Government.

Aah, the perils of censorship. In the end, nobody is very happy.

But for now, some believe sanity is prevailing and children are safe from exploitation. For others, it’s a dark time for the freedom of media.

After much debate, Internet censorship is rolling into Australian service providers this month. First Telstra, then Optus, will be voluntarily filtering a blacklist supplied by the Australian government. The list claims to ban sites that propagate child pornography.

This is a way around the law. Censorship needs new legislation, so if service providers agree to the list in the meantime, it’s no problem. Lawyers don’t have to pen a bill and politicians can turn their vex to other issues.

But politicians aren’t the only ones finding a way around censorship. It seems finding a way around the filter isn’t too tough either. Stephen Collins from Internet users lobby group Electronic Frontiers Australia, told “The Sydney Morning Herald” it’s “trivial” to bypass.

As for Big Brother, he’s watching but admits that it’s fairly easy to navigate around. A spokesperson for the Internet Industry Association compared it to hot-wiring a car or breaking into a house. Easy –- as long as you know how and nobody is watching.

The question has to be asked: is the website that explains how to navigate around the filter on the blacklist?

Of course, Internet porn addicts will probably choose Primus as their service provider, which has not signed up for the filter.

But anyone who attempts to access a banned site through Telstra or Optus will be directed to an Interpol page; yes, the International Criminal Police Organization maintain the page -- and who wants them popping up their screen?

As for the blacklist drawn up by the government, what does Julian Assange have to say about it?

Naturally, he got hold of the list and published it on Wikileaks. It includes gay and straight porn sites, fringe religious groups, Wikipedia sites –- and even a dog kennel operator and a Queensland dentist. He says the system is “invariably corrupted.”

But, of course: who censors the censors? It seems in Australia’s early attempts to be Big Brother, it’s appearing like more of a nanny.