Internet Filtering in OZ

The Australian government is currently contemplating its needs for ISP based Internet filtering for “promoting online safety”. Whatever the motivations and reasons (and these could change over time and political, legal and social contexts), Internet filtering will restrict citizen access to the Infosphere, and the distribution framework for content providers. The IT sector argues it will also effect network performance.

The Australian Communication and Media Authority (ACMA) have recently published a report on its investigation into Internet filtering. It summarises,

“ At this time, filtering technologies are regarded as suited to addressing particular static content risks. The report also discusses how the use of content rating and labelling can minimise risks associated with inappropriate static content and how Internet hotlines provide a mechanism for users to report potentially illegal content to appropriate organizations for investigation”……………………………………
“ The report finds that while single measures can be effective in addressing some online risks, clusters of measures can supply a holistic approach”.

Critics of the OZ filtering proposal, comment that the ACMA report provides,

“..a very comprehensive and useful examination of a wide range of options available to government, ISPs and end users to achieve the very desirable goals of preventing the distribution of illegal content on the Internet and of shielding children from material that is undesirable or inappropriate.

Australia could learn a great deal from an inclusive and open investigation of this full range of options in Australia, but unfortunately the government seems to have fixated on one outcome: ISP level filtering.”

To get the global picture on filtering, MIT Press have recently published a book, “Access Denied, the Practice and Policy of Internet Filtering”.

The authors also intend to create a publicly accessible online database of filtering worldwide. Here is the preview chapter, the Introduction.


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