Australia’s government is under fire after it appears to have introduced web censorship without warning, expanding already-controversial powers to block access to child pornography into a wider web filtering system.
The reluctance of the government to release information about who has requested sites be blocked, and lists of those sites, has also alarmed many Australians. Two convenors from Melbourne Free University (MFU), whose site was blocked without warning or explanation on 4 April, have described it as a “glimpse [of] the everyday reality of living under a totalitarian government”.
For a country that perhaps has a reputation for taking it easy, Australia’s governments have been particularly keen on web censorship. In 2008, a web filter was proposed that would have potentially blocked as many as 10,000 sites by placing them on a blacklist, but years ofcriticism from industry, political and public groups — including Anonymous ” declaring war” on it, and Wikileaks publishing the confidential blacklist to show it included some sites that were only, contrary to government assurances, subjectively offensive — led to the idea being dropped in November 2012.
That might have been the end of it, but no — instead of going through legislative channels, it looks like web censorship is back, and this time it’s taking advantage of a legal loophole. On 4 April, more than 1,200 sites were suddenty unavailable to Australian web users.
The Tap Blog is a collective of like-minded researchers and writers who’ve joined forces to distribute information and voice opinions avoided by the world’s media.