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OpenNet Initiative: Australia’s content filtering “frightening”

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Andrew Hendry
ARN
Friday, November 21, 2008

The principal investigator of the OpenNet Initiative (ONI) has labelled the federal government’s proposed mandatory Internet filtering scheme “frightening” and typical of non-democratic regimes.

Associate Professor, Ronald Deibert, is co-founder and principal investigator of ONI – a collaborative partnership between Harvard Law School, Oxford University, Cambridge University and the Citizen Lab at University of Toronto.

Deibert told ARN he found the proposal to implement mandatory filtering in Australia both puzzling and frightening.

“Over the last 7 years, I have closely documented patterns of Internet filtering worldwide, and typically proposals of this sort are found among non-democratic regimes,” he said. “There is a trend towards filtering of access to information involving the sexual exploitation of children, for example in Canada and the United Kingdom, but these appear to be much narrower in scope than that which is being proposed in Australia.”

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Senator Conroy’s proposal that ISPs provide a mandatory clean Internet feed to all Australians will undergo a live trial over the Christmas period. The Federal Opposition, industry and privacy groups have rejected the proposal, while the Greens have accused Conroy of misleading parliament over what other countries have trialed mandatory filtering.

  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t

Deibert, who also co-authored the book Access Denied: The Practice and Policy of Global Internet Filtering, said optional filtering schemes in Canada and the UK had major transparency and accountability problems that may be duplicated, if not exacerbated, in Australia.

In Canada, for example, filtering of access to child pornography is left in the hands of private ISPs. Deibert said this lack of civilian oversight meant there was no measure of redress for sites that had been improperly blocked.

In Australia, the public will have no means to determine what sites are blocked, as recent amendments to Freedom of Information laws means the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) will administer a secret blacklist with no public oversight or accountability.

Full story here. 

This article was posted: Friday, November 21, 2008 at 11:18 am





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