Censorship: we asked for it

Whose fault is it that the Australian government is getting set to deliver the Western world’s most oppressive internet censorship regime? Ours, as it happens, for failing to have a bill of rights protecting free speech. So Professor George Williams told me in this article for ZDNet.

“Australia does not have a Bill of Rights which protects free speech at a federal level. We don’t have the protections that they have in every other democratic country.That means Australia might be subject to far more stringent regulations on the internet than would be possible in other democratic countries.”

The academic community is singing from the same hymn sheet on this idea, judging by a report released today from media studies profs Catharine Lumby, Lelia Green and John Hartley. “The proposal would set Australia apart from other Western liberal democracies that have opted for a transparent, voluntary filtering regime,” they said.

They analysed the proposed filtering regime and found it could censor a whole lot more than just kiddie porn, including perfectly legal material.

“The ACMA is blacklisting a significant number of sites that are not illegal content but are considered offensive. While this may be considered acceptable where filtering is opt-in by an end user (or parent for family computers), under a mandatory filtering regime this would result in capturing material that is clearly legal but restricted in availability (off the internet) through classification restrictions.”

Unlike the Liberal Party’s shambolic approach to party unity on the emissions trading scheme, Labor polticos are so far toeing the party line on censorship. Senator Kate Lundy wasn’t saying much today, despite her strong record of criticising internet censorship proposals in the past. Looks like Peter Garrett isn’t the only one to have abandoned his principles once in power.

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