Google slams 'heavy-handed' filter

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.

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TOPICS: Google, Telcos
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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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6 comments
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  • Of Course it will affect Google

    If this goes into effect, Google will have to play the "GET THIS OFF YOUR SEARCH ENGINE NOW IT IS RC" game similar to the one they play with China on a daily basis in an attempt not to be firewalled.
    anonymous
  • Godwin's law by 2nd comment

    Gee, that didn't take long. By the second comment Anonymous had mentioned 'Nazi'. I just knew this post was going to require some serious thought given that filtered telecommunications is as bad as genocide and that the filtering servers are going to wear swastikas and black SS uniforms. Oh wait, maybe I should stop being facitious and say something constructive. OK here we go:

    While I agree that the Internet filter proposed by Conroy has the best of intentions (who could be against protecting children?), I don't think it is the best method of ensuring the means.

    I have to ask, radio, newspapers, and television are all subject to classifications. Why should the Internet, yet another form of media be any different? We don't have a Bill of Rights, and there is nothing to say we have the right to access a website. We have the right to free speech, to translate, we can have the right to host and post post a blog; but there's nothing to state we have the right to read it. It's essentially this loop hole in which the filter will be able to operate.

    Internet access is a privilege not a right. We should treat it as such; and not abuse it. At the same time, we should educate children about safe browsing practices and critical thought so they can analyse and make safe decisions (both online and outside of a site).

    Ranting about religions will hardly help this cause; especially with such poor links to the issue at hand. Rather, focus attention to a better way to achieve the same goal (at least, what is stated as the goal).

    Better education for children to enable them to make better decisions is key here. Nothing will match good parenting, and relying on an external filter is just laziness and laziness is a key part to bad parenting.
    anonymous
  • Godwin is appropriate, this is a facist idea.

    Hi Adam Carmichael, if the intention for Conroy's filter was child protection then why is it going ahead when his own report concluded that it won't protect the children? Is it maybe because the REAL reason it's being introduced is to pander to far right religious and conservative lobbyists?
    anonymous
  • Mr. Conroy, what are you trying to prove?

    It would seem that Mr. Conroy isn't thinking this the whole way through. In my opinion, this is nothing more than a feeble attempt to subvert the majority to the will of the Parliament using the actions of the minority as an excuse for excessive social control that is neither moral nor constitutional.

    And there is another fact that is just being ignored by Mr. Conroy. One of PM Kevin Rudd's election promises was to reach a global internet speed of 100MBits per second, and yet tests of the speed with the filter on reached a maximum of 8MBits per second, with it running into flat spots between 7 and 8MBits. Kevin Rudd says he's leading us into a 100MBit future, but I'm not sure if the filter can keep up.
    anonymous
  • zdnet

    congrats to zdnets reporting obviously a group of geeks who care about the erosion of rights evident in Australia, i hope you all don't end profiled and put on the enemy of the state list ..
    anonymous
  • "While I agree that the Internet filter proposed by Conroy has the best of [PUBLICIZED] intentions (who could be against protecting children?), I don't think it is the best method of ensuring the means."

    Just because Conroy has been PUBLICLY announcing that this is the purpose of the filter, he's a politician and, therefore, not to be believed.

    This is about Far Right-Wing Fundamentalist Christianity (i.e., those who give Christianity a bad name) attempting to control what we "Heathens" think, see and hear. It would seem that the concept of "thought-crime" has finally arrived.
    Treknology