EFA: Filtering 'damages Australia's reputation'

EFA: Filtering 'damages Australia's reputation'

Summary: Civil rights and online free speech lobby group Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) today criticised the government's internet filtering report, claiming civil rights implications should be the focus rather than the technology's impacts on internet speed and performance.

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Civil rights and online free speech lobby group Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) today criticised the government's internet filtering report, claiming civil rights implications should be the focus rather than the technology's impacts on internet speed and performance.

It damages Australia's reputation as a free and open democracy and as a technologically advanced and savvy 21st century country

EFA vice president Colin Jacobs

"The bigger policy questions haven't been addressed by this report, it's focusing on a minor technical aspect," EFA vice president Colin Jacobs said today.

ZDNet.com.au also asked Jacobs whether the EFA believed that the bulk of public outrage would be over the performance issues raised in the report rather than the civil rights implications of the internet filter.

"Our sense is that people will be much more worried about the fact that the government will have a secret blacklist that is not very compatible with our status as a democracy and a free society," said Jacobs.

In a statement released today, the EFA said it had expected the filter pilot to pass, and that the report left out several questions including what will be blocked, who will decide and the reasons for its implementation.

"So the question is, why is this policy being pursued? Especially considering there are financial costs as well as governance issues around a secret government blacklist that the public obviously doesn't have access to," said Jacobs.

Further concerns for the EFA include the blocking of websites that do not fit into the Australian Communications and Media Authority's classification guidelines, like R18+ computer games and adult material that falls outside of the X and R ratings.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy also made a statement earlier today saying that the government will be consulting the general public to "improve the accountability and transparency of processes that lead to RC (Restricted Content) rated material being placed on the RC Content list."

While the government claims that the filter will protect children, Jacobs believes that it is a waste of money and lacks purpose.

"When you're actually looking down at what this filter will accomplish, it actually accomplishes very little for children," said Jacobs, citing that the filter was primarily targeted at adults and won't protect children from harmful materials.

"I've spoken to people overseas and they're asking: what's going on down there? Are you guys crazy?" said Jacobs. "It damages Australia's reputation as a free and open democracy and as a technologically advanced and savvy 21st century country that understands how the internet works and why a free and open internet is so valuable technologically and democratically."

Jacobs gave an example of a humorous overseas reaction to Conroy's filter referring to the British ISP Association's nomination of Stephen Conroy for the "Internet Villain of the Year" award.

Topics: Censorship, Networking, IT Employment, Tech Industry

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7 comments
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  • Closer to China than you think

    A secret list, controlled by the Government and not open to independant scrutiny. KRudd is taking us closer to China, policy by policy.
    anonymous
  • Blame the Jesus people

    Blame the gov't for their backdoor power deals with the lunatic religious fringe. This sort of thing wouldn't happen if it weren't for vote buying.
    anonymous
  • It will be OK

    We the rulers will have a blacklist, big deal.
    The best part of this is we will have the list of users that try to get to the blacklisted sites. Then we can clamp down on childporn, snuffvids, pirate software, pirate music, pirate publications and people who want non comformist software, music and books. We can keep an eye on greenpeaceniks, lefties, non christians, anti whalers, tree huggers, free thinkers.
    Seeing as how web sites can use different ports, we will scan all 64k ports (pop3, smtp, dns) Seeing as how bad sites can use IP redirects me need to filter IPs not just the headers. Our compliance inspectors will collect the data regulaly and get the signals directorate to sniff of the undesirables. In fact We want you all behind a proxy, so you get our certificates.

    We will keep you safe.
    Now get back to consuming.
    anonymous
  • Reputable.

    Australia's reputation will not be damaged, as its reputation as the global village idiot has been sound for a considerable amount of time. All Internet filtering manages to achieve is to re-affirm that opinion in our (quite considerable and in-numerable) betters.
    anonymous
  • How to complain

    If you send off an angry email about filtering, all you’ll get is an automated reply giving you the standard words on the issue. This will not get you very far or change the policy. Don't waste your time, waste theirs instead! See http://bit.ly/7a0orA for instructions. The absolute worst thing you can do to a public servant is create paperwork for them. Think of it as a snail mail version of a DDoS.
    anonymous
  • Old internet filter

    The original internet filter is still the best and only effective one. It's called parental supervision!
    A large number of parents have raised a generation of kids who understand and know how to best use the internet. It doesn't take that much to configure a home firewall and manage your own user based rules.
    Most parents are just lazy and can't be bothered to take control. The whole nation will now suffer because of these lazy, ignorant parents.
    anonymous
  • Great info: chew up more time in the broadband office

    Wow, that's a great piece of advice. I'm preparing a letter to ask about a whole range of questions including the National Broadband Network, Telstra's broadband plans and other topics so that it will take more than a click of a button to reply, it will take several people half an hour each in order to reply. Take that, Government Broadband Office!
    anonymous