This story was found by way of Ars Technica:
Australians may not be able to opt out of the government’s Internet filtering initiative like they were originally led to believe. Details have begun to come out about Australia’s Cyber-Safety Plan, which aims to block “illegal” content from being accessed within the country, as well as pornographic material inappropriate for children. Right now, the system is in the testing stages, but network engineers are now saying that there’s no way to opt out entirely from content filtering.
Apparently, the Australian government has taken it upon themselves to filter out what they deem to be “illegal” content. This is exactly what the Chinese government is doing with its Great Firewall. The reasons for doing it and the methods they use may be different, but the end goal is still the same. There has already been some backlash amongst Australian internet users. Despite these protests, the Australian government is still pushing forward. Despite their best efforts, though, this may not have the desired impact, as the internet is impossible to regulate.
What I find most troubling about this is the fact that it could spread. With things like Homeland Security and the USA PATRIOT ACT gradually whittling down our freedoms in the United States, how can we be sure that our freedom and privacy on the web will be preserved. The web is the most egalitarian media outlet ever created and laws like this just damage it. One of the web’s greatest strength’s is that it is unfilitered. Anyone can post anything and anyone can get anything (for the most part). To have that kind of freedom and openness diminished by governmental regulation and censorship is sad and frightening.
I can understand the desire to censor things like child pornography. In fact, I am okay with blocking things like that. The web can be used for lots of bad things. However, I feel that the web is largely used for positive purposes. Also, whenever a government is given a certain power, it is rarely taken away from it. This also gives the Australian government enormous power to control what its citizens see on the web. Regardless of what the says the government can and cannot do, there will probably be individuals who take advantage of that power for their own ends.
I hope public outcry will kill this government action in Australia and prevent it here in the United States. The strength and appeal of the internet lies in its freedom. It is my contention that there should be at least one media outlet that is completely free of censorship and regulation. I would urge Australians to speak out and for Australian ISPs to grow spines and stand up to this. Sorry, Australia. I hope you feel better soon.