• SMH: “Conroy’s internet censorship agenda slammed by tech giants”

    Mar 23 2010, 3:26

    The Sydney Morning Herald has a good summary of what some of Australia’s biggest technology companies, communications academics and lobby groups have to say about the Government’s internet filtering policy in their accountability and transparency submissions:

    … many reiterated their concerns that the policy is fundamentally unsound and would do little to make the internet a safer place for children. Many said the scope of blocked content was too broad and would render legitimate sites inaccessible, while the process of adding sites to the blacklist could be subject to abuse by bureaucrats and politicians.

    Google, which today officially stopped censoring search results in China, said it had held discussions with users and parents around Australia and “the strong view from parents was that the Government’s proposal goes too far and would take away their freedom of choice around what information they and their children can access”.

    However, it is not just Google that is concerned with the filter. ¬†Microsoft was concerned with arbitrary executive decision making” surrounding content added to the list, and Yahoo was concerned about the broad scope of the filter:

    Yahoo! are entirely supportive of any effort to make the internet a safer place for children, however mandatory filtering of all RC material could block content with a strong social, political and/or educational value,” Yahoo’s submission read.

    It listed some examples of innocuous sites that could be blocked including:

    - Safe injecting and other harm minimisation websites
    - Euthanasia discussion forums
    - A video on creating graffiti art
    - Anti-abortion websites
    - Gay and lesbian forums which discuss sexual experiences
    - Explorations of the geo-political causes of terrorism where specific terrorist organisation, and propaganda is cited as reference material

    Yahoo also pointed to a recent paper which provided “several examples where knee jerk regulatory reactions to ‘controversial’ content have been entirely out of step with broader public opinion”.

    The Australian Christian Lobby even had concerns, saying that inadvertently adding innocuous content to the blacklist would “undermine the entire policy”.

    Read the entire story in the Sydney Morning Herald here.

    The Australian also has a story on Google’s submission here.