Media rights group puts Australia on internet watchlist
March 12, 2010
A top media rights watchdog has listed Australia along with Iran and North Korea in a report on countries that pose a threat of internet censorship.
Paris-based media rights group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on Thursday put Australia and South Korea on its list of countries "under surveillance" in its "Internet Enemies" report.
Australia was listed for the government's plan to block access to websites featuring material such as rape, drug use, bestiality and child sex abuse. Critics say the plan is a misguided measure that will harm civil liberties by blocking a broader range of content than just nasty material.
The Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, has said he plans to introduce legislation by the end of next week that would require ISPs to block a blacklist of "refused classification" websites for all Australians. It is not clear if the government will meet this deadline; a spokeswoman for Senator Conroy said the legislation would be introduced "after it has been considered by caucus and cabinet".
In South Korea, the RSF report added, "draconian laws are creating too many specific restrictions on web users by challenging their anonymity and promoting self-censorship".
Lu Kewen aka. Australian PM “Kevin 07” Rudd
“It’s all about getting the balance right”
"These countries are worrying us because they have measures that could have repercussions for freedom of expression on the internet," RSF secretary general Jean-Francois Julliard said at an internet rights award ceremony on Thursday.
Russia and Turkey were also added to the watchlist, which is a category below RSF's top "Enemies of the internet", the countries it considers the 12 worst web freedom violators.
These include Saudi Arabia, Burma, China, North Korea, Iran and Vietnam.
"The world's largest netizen prison is in China, which is far out ahead of other countries with 72 detainees, followed by Vietnam and then by Iran, which have all launched waves of brutal attacks on websites in recent months," RSF's report said.
A senior manager of US internet giant Google, David Drummond, said there was an "alarming trend" of government interference in online freedom, not only in countries that are judged to have poor human rights records.
He cited Australia's plans as an example, saying that there "the wide scope of content prohibited could include socially and politically controversial material".
The Australian case "is an example of where these benign intentions can result in the spectre of true censorship", he added, speaking at Thursday's ceremony.
"Here in Europe, even in France, at this very moment, some are tempted by this slippery path of network filtering."
Last month, after Senator Conroy called on YouTube to censor videos in accordance with his filtering scheme, the search giant's head of policy in Australia, Iarla Flynn, said: "The scope of RC is simply too broad and can raise genuine questions about restrictions on access to information. RC includes the grey realms of material instructing in any crime from [painting] graffiti to politically controversial crimes such as euthanasia, and exposing these topics to public debate is vital for democracy."
Compulsory censorship for internet.
Daily Telegraph 29 10 08 Pg. 4
THE Federal Government will make internet censorship compulsory for all Australians and could ban controversial websites on euthanasia and anorexia. Australia's level of net censorship will put it in the same league as China, Cuba, Iran and North Korea.
The Government will not let users opt out of the proposed national internet filter. Broadband, Communications and Digital Economy Minister Stephen Conroy said the Government's $44.2 million internet censorship plan would now include two tiers — one level of mandatory filtering for all Australians and an optional level that will provide a "clean feed", censoring adult material. Despite planning to hold "live trials" before the end of the year, Senator Conroy said it was not known what content the mandatory filter would bar, with euthanasia or proanorexia sites on the chopping block. "We are talking about mandatory blocking, where possible, of illegal material," he said.
'Australia's level of net censorship will put it in the same league as China, Cuba, Iran and North Korea. The Government will not let users opt out of the proposed national internet filter.
The Ascension of Lu Kewen