Australian Government Dumps Mandatory Internet Filtering Scheme

Australian Government Dumps Mandatory Internet Filtering SchemeTHE Australian Federal Government has withdrawn a proposal to implement an internet filtering scheme that has been likened to firewalls operating in China and Iran.

The internet filtering scheme, initially proposed by former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in 2007, would have forced all Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) to block all websites that have been identified by the Australian Communications and Media Authority as restricted.

Opposition to the policy when the Australian Government announced the concept of an internet filter in Australia came from many groups, including ISP’s, children’s welfare groups, Google, the US Ambassador to and other prominent civil libertarian groups.

Cyber-activists in Australia even compared the internet filtering scheme to firewalls operating in China and Iran.

The Australian Government’s proposed internet filter, also known as the nanny state filter, will now be replaced with a “slimmed down” version that will only block websites supplied by Interpol that have been identified as displaying child pornography.

Under the existing powers under the Telecommunications Act, ISP’s will be forced to block the list of restricted websites.

However, questions are still being raised as to why the Australian Government insists on regulating Australia’s internet traffic, even if it’s for purposes pertaining to websites that display illegal content.

When the “slimmed down” version of the internet filter is implemented, there will be no regulations or safeguards to prevent the government from adding other (non-Interpol) websites to the filter list.

This victory comes hand in hand with a recent decision by the Australian Government to withdraw its proposed changes to the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 that would have  forced Australian telecommunications companies and ISP’s to collect and store phone and internet data records for a minimum two years.

Considering that the government’s unpopular carbon tax has severely affected the Australian Government’s popularity and that the next election will be held within the next 12 months, is this recent change of heart simply a political decision rather than a moral one?

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