Google slams 'heavy-handed' filter

Summary:Google Australia posted a statement today on its official blog calling the government's ISP filter "heavy handed" and outlining the search giant's concerns about the scope of filtered content.

Google Australia posted a statement today on its official blog calling the government's ISP filter "heavy handed" and outlining the search giant's concerns about the scope of filtered content.

Moving to a mandatory ISP filtering regime with a scope that goes well beyond such material is heavy handed

Google Australia

Google's major concern is that the scope of filtered refused classification content is too wide, citing a recent report by Australian media academics, professors Catharine Lumby, Lelia Green and John Hartley.

The report found that adults may be refused access to material which is legally classifiable under Australian law. Potentially blocked material could include videos of political assassinations, graffiti art tutorials and drug use.

"Moving to a mandatory ISP filtering regime with a scope that goes well beyond such material is heavy handed and can raise genuine questions about restrictions on access to information," Google wrote in the statement.

Google stated that whilst limits should be placed on extreme material such as child pornography, the company has a bias in favour of people's right to free expression.

"While we recognise that protecting the free exchange of ideas and information cannot be without some limits, we believe that more information generally means more choice, more freedom and ultimately more power for the individual," posted Google.

ZDNet.com.au asked the head of Google's Policy Team, Iarla Flynn, if the ISP filter will affect the company.

"It's hard to say because the details of how this will actually work have not fully emerged," said Flynn. "We think there could be an impact, and if you're asking if there's material today which could be refused classification material ... the answer to that is yes."

Google also called for more debate and awareness of the filter issue in its post.

"Exposing politically controversial topics for public debate is vital for democracy. Homosexuality was a crime in Australia until 1976 in ACT, NSW in 1984 and 1997 in Tasmania," wrote Google, "Political and social norms change over time and benefit from intense public scrutiny and debate. The openness of the internet makes this all the more possible and should be protected."

Topics: Google, Telcos

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