THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT has decided that the land Down Under will become the only Western Democracy to attempt to censor the Internet.
Despite warnings that the government is committing political suicide and the technology will not work, the Rudd government is screaming for the same controls over its citizens as Communist China.
It is insisting that filtering a blacklist of banned sites will be accurate and won't slow down the Internet.
The Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, said today that he will introduce legislation just before next year's elections to force ISPs to block a government blacklist of "refused classification" (RC) websites for all Australian Internet users.
The website blacklist is a 21st century version of book burning, featuring everything that good decent citizens should not like.
The Australian Government claims its list only includes things like child sex abuse, sexual violence and instructions on crime. However the list will be compiled using a public complaints mechanism, Government censors and URLs provided by 'international agencies'. Of course no one can imagine how anything could go wrong with that.
Conroy said that most good decent cobbers know there is a some Internet material that is not acceptable in any civilised society and it is important that all Australians, particularly young children, are protected from this material.
Of course good decent cobbers will be asking the government to tell them what is bad for them and this is where it will all go pear-shaped.
The Government's top-secret list of banned sites was leaked onto the web in March, revealing the scope of the filtering could extend significantly beyond child porn and other bad things.
About half of the sites on the list were not related to child porn and included poker sites, Youtube links, regular gay and straight porn sites, Wikipedia entries, euthanasia sites, fringe religions, fetish sites, Christian sites and bizarrely a tour operator and even a Queensland dentist.
It is starting to look, however, like the Rudd Government's Internet censorship initiatives are being watched closely by other democracies.
While most governments know that they will be accused of being Big Brother if they bring it in they are watching to see if the Aussie control freaks get away with it.
Governments, whatever they may say, love the idea of control. Blighty has happily encouraged the installation of CCTV cameras everywhere despite enormous costs to the taxpayers and the fact that there is no evidence they reduce crime.
Conroy claimed that more than 15 western countries had encouraged or enforced Internet filtering, and there was no reason why Australians should not have similar "protection".
Countries that do filter the Internet include Communist China and North Korea, the Islamic theocracies of Saudi Arabia and Iran, a number of other less than democratic countries in the Middle East and a few tin-pot dictatorships here and there.
Conway is also taking a big risk of trying to get the legislation through before the election. No opposition party supports the plan and the Rudd government is not the most popular. Many expected the daft plan to be dropped as too risky.
The fact that it has not been dropped is worrying for everyone in the Western World who has a problem with being told what to do by a government.
What is amusing is that it will only inconvenience those who allow themselves to be blocked. The Chinese government has found that if people are determined enough any filtering of the world wide web can be bypassed.
Paedophiles and terrorists will be the first to get around any Internet filtering. So this means it will only be useful for controlling and monitoring the Australian public. µ
Presumably 'Richard' is your next security worry
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That's another good reason not to see it