Civil Liberties

Australian Web Crawl


Taking its cue from enlightened regimes such as China, Cuba, Iran, and North Korea, the Australian government wants to stop its citizens from seeing "illegal material" on their computer screens. Originally justified as a way of fighting child pornography, the mandatory Internet filter also might be used to block access to "illegal hard-core material" (whatever that is) and sites discussing controversial subjects such as anorexia and euthanasia. The plan has provoked criticism from the Green Party, ISPs, and business groups, which complain that it will unfairly limit Australians' access to information, further slow their already poky Internet service, and impede online commerce. The rejoinder from Communications Minister Stephen Conroy:

I will accept some debate around what should and should not be on the Internet. I am not a wowser.

I'm not sure that a willingness to discuss the details of Internet censorship disqualifies one for wowser status, but I admit I only just learned the word.

Last year Jeff Taylor noted an earlier version of the filtering plan, which would have allowed especially curious Australians to opt out. 

[Thanks to John Kluge for the tip.]