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Aussie net censorship turning Chinese

Minister opts for Google China-style stifling

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This request by Senator Conroy emerged in an interview with ABC’s Hungry Beast, as he finally appeared to accept the long-standing argument put forward by critics that applying ISP filters to high-traffic sites such as YouTube would slow down the internet.

Google Australia's head of policy, Iarla Flynn, confirmed that Google can give no assurances that it would voluntarily remove all Refused Classification content from YouTube. She added: "The scope of RC is simply too broad and can raise genuine questions about restrictions on access to information.

"RC includes the grey realms of material instructing in any crime from [painting] graffiti to politically controversial crimes such as euthanasia, and exposing these topics to public debate is vital for democracy."

Despite this, a poll this week (also for Hungry Beast) has been promoted as showing widespread support for the government’s proposed internet filter. However, this poll obscures rather more than it illuminates. In answer to a question as to whether they are in favour of the government acting to help prevent children being exposed to inappropriate material on the internet, a resounding 94 per cent said yes.

This muddies the water greatly. The RC category includes not just child abuse material, but also "bestiality, sexual violence, gratuitous, exploitative or offensive sexual fetishes; and detailed instructions on or promotion of crime, violence or use of illegal drugs". From Senator Conroy’s latest remarks, this would just be the start point for future Australian censorship.

Another question, which has received slightly less publicity, was whether website filtering might in future be used to block free speech. The answer to that was an almost equally resounding 70 per cent affirmative. The debate goes on. ®

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