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Australia Website Blacklist to be Reviewed: Includes Online Poker Sites

Written by:
Alistair Prescott
Published on:
May/26/2009

A controversial push to block several thousand websites in Australia continues as the federal government there insists on playing "Big Brother", this despite the resulting uproar from Australian citizens. 

The government now wants the list of websites reviewed by a panel of eminent Australians or a parliamentary committee as a means of achieving transparency.

But the list has already been leaked out via Wikileaks and contained websites well beyond the scope of child porn and beastiality.  The government was attempting to ban dental and political sites as well as the Betfair wagering exchange, which is legal in Australia.

The list is supplied to the makers of internet filters, but publication of the list is a criminal offence. This has led to criticisms that websites could be listed without their knowing it and without any opportunity to challenge their inclusion, writes Dan Harrison of the Age.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has been at the forefront of the controversy.  He said at hearings on Monday that the government was  "considering options for greater transparency and accountability in respect of the blacklist".

Free speech advocates have lashed out at the attempts.  Many suggest the program will be "ineffective" and lead to further erosion of Internet speeds. 

Betfair CEO Andrew Twaits expressed outrage over the multi-billion dollar company being blacklisted and admits he was completely unaware.

We didn't know [about the ban]. We've been licensed to operate in Australia for three years and have never received a complaint or any allegation that Betfair locally or globally is not permitted to be used by Australians

"The global Betfair site is used by Australians every day."

Alistair Prescott, Gambling911.com 

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