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Push to Censor Online Gambling, Porn in Australia

Written by:
Jagajeet Chiba
Published on:
Oct/27/2008

Australia may be looking to censor or block online gambling and porn websites according to reports that surfaced in local media on Monday.

Online users groups are warning the government's planned multi-million dollar ISP filtering policy could block a wide range of content, despite the initial plans the system would censor only "illegal material", according to The Macquarie News.

Family First Senator Steve Fielding wants hardcore pornography banned under the new filter, while independent Senator Nick Xenaphon wants illegal overseas gambling sites banned.

Internet users' lobby group Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) say that means users' freedoms will be at risk.

"Any group with an axe to grind and political clout will be lobbying the Government to blacklist websites which they object to," EFA spokesman Dale Clapperton told Fairfax.

"Having all Australians' internet access subject to a secret and unaccountable government blacklist is completely unacceptable in a liberal democracy such as Australia."

In a Senate Estimates hearing last week, the Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, confirmed that his proposal would force ISPs to implement a two-tiered filtering system.

The proposed censorship is more advanced than that in any liberal democracy and would put Australia on a par with oppressive regimes such as Iran, the internet industry says.

A Family First spokeswoman indicated the party would want X-rated and refused classification (RC) content banned for everyone, including adults.

"Family First would consider a mandatory ISP-based filtering system that protects children by blocking illegal content like child pornography, but allows adults to opt out of filtering to access material classified R18+ or less," Senator Fielding's spokeswoman said.

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Jagajeet Chiba, Gambling911.com

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