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Australian online censorship controversy

Posted by Michael Bloch in online world (Thursday March 19, 2009 )

A web site that reportedly published a list of links to sites which will be banned to Australian users under a new government filtering scheme is causing all sorts of controversy locally and overseas.

The site, Wikileaks (which I won’t provide a link to for the reason below), published a list of URLs they claim to be on the Australian government’s hit list of prohibited content.

The Australian government has stated the new filter will be national and mandatory – there will be no opting out.

While many of the sites listed are reported to be of a very explicit nature, some are supposedly quite innocent – glitches in the filtering system.

According to a recent press release from the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), the list published by Wikileaks is inaccurate, but does contain some of the sites they have blacklisted

.. and here’s the reason why I haven’t linked to Wikileaks:

“Schedule 7 to the BSA also requires ACMA to investigate complaints about ‘links services’ which are hosted in Australia and which lead to prohibited content. If as a result of investigating such a complaint ACMA determines that a link relates to potential prohibited content, ACMA is required to direct the provider of the links service to remove the link”

… so by linking to a site that contains links to prohibited content which would likely be prohibited too, I could find myself in trouble. It’s all rather confusing – censorship is a messy affair. The word getting around is that failure to remove such a link can attract fines of 11,000 bucks a day.

I think I’ll play it safe.


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