Net censorship, round two - Google versus... Australia!
Having retreated from China because of the country's determination to manipulate its citizens, Google is now under attack from the Australian government. In the name of freedom, the government intends to introduce legislation to force all ISPs to block a blacklist of "refused classification" websites for the whole of the population.
According to reports in the Australian press, the country's communications minister said in a radio interview yesterday that the blacklist will "largely include deplorable content such as child pornography, bestiality material and instructions on crime". The problem is that the word 'largely' leaves a lot of room for maneuvering. Not only are academics, technology companies and lobby groups opposed to the filters, which they say are too broad in their scope and will do little to safeguard children or the country at large, but the public don't seem too interested either - the majority of callers to the radio show objected to the proposals.
Unsurprisingly, Google agrees with that particular point of view; they have stated that in interviews with the Australian public, "the strong view from parents was that the government's proposal goes too far and would take away their freedom of choice around what information they and their children can access". There's also a possible impact on internet speeds, the accidental blacklisting of medical information and a likelihood that parents will assume a child's use of the internet is suddenly risk-free.
Ultimately, it's an issue that comes down to freedom of choice and, in terms of the duty of protecting children, responsible parenting. The Australian public doesn't seem too keen on taking those first steps towards Chinese censorship, no matter how well-meant the intention is.