Google, Obama at “war” with Aussie gov’t over Internet filtering policy

by: Bradley Wint on March 30th, 2010 at 1:25 am

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If you thought China was the only country doing heavy Internet traffic filtering, well they are not the only ones. The Australian government has announced that they will be forcing ISPs within their country to start filtering undesirable content such as pornography, bestiality and 0ther material related to criminal activities. In an interview on ABC Radio Australia, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said that they will be going ahead with the filtering plan to protect children who browse the web.

Google has once again made their stance on Internet filtering known to the authorities by strongly opposing to the move, saying that the filters will not make the net any safer than it is, and will have worse effects such as overall traffic slow-downs and jams. They also state that blocking material from certain sites is technologically impossible at this time due to the huge amount of traffic being transferred between parties. Some of these big sites include Facebook, Twitter and Wikipedia.

Senator Conroy had quite a lot to say about Google and their Buzz service, basically attacking them for their recent affairs with China. In the radio interview he said:

“Recently the founders of Google have got themselves into a little bit of trouble because notwithstanding their alleged ‘do no evil’ policy, they recently created something called Buzz, and there was a reaction, and people said well look aren’t you publishing private information?,” Senator Conroy said.

“[Google CEO Eric] Schmidt said the following: ‘If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place’. This is the founder of Google. He also said recently to Wall Street analysts, ‘we love cash’, so when people say, shouldn’t we just leave it up to the Googles of this world to determine what the filtering policy should be….”

Google responded by saying that Conroy took Schmidt’s quote out of context and mentioned that the CEO was not a founding member, but only joined the team in 2001. They also were disappointed that the senator chose to attack Google’s services, rather than discuss the general topic of Internet censorship in Australia. The US government also joined Google’s side by stating in a memo that they support the freedom of information flow across the globe in order to sustain and develop open societies as well as better economic conditions across the globe. When questioned about the US’s position, Conroy said he received no such writing from the Obama administration.

Conroy stated that he wanted to apply a policy that was similarly used to filter out bad media in the DVD, CD and Magazine market in Australia. He was heavily criticized for not realizing that the Internet is a totally different form of media versus physical media. He mentioned the blacklisting process needed to be more transparent, but still made no mention about what classes of sites would actually be banned.

Activists, university groups and other organizations have also opposed the decision, stating that the move would make no impact on children’s safety online and that it would only limit the free flow of information across the country. Imagine trying to write a thesis on the effect of Rape and not being able to access any online information.

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  • dfssdf – April 1st, 2010 – 1:40 AM

    “0ther material”? You mean the hax0r material?