Aussie Parliament Wants To Tighten Net Censorship

Australians may soon find some websites inaccessible thanks to a new piece of legislation making its way through the country's Parliament.

CENSORING THE 'NET- The bill would further censorship provisions already in place by the federal government. Currently, the Australian Communications and Media Authority have a 'blacklist' of sites that could be blocked from view inside the country.

Currently on the list are pornography and material deemed offensive, but the amendment to the current law would allow police to add to the list sites that it considered "crime or terrorism-related content."

According to the legislation, any site that either promotes or encourages crime, or may have the effect of doing so, may be eligible for addition to the list. The government maintains that such actions are not intended to curtail free speech, however it is being done more out of a desire to curb illegal activities online.

By allowing the police direct access into the list, sites would be able to be blocked more quickly, says Tasmanian senator Eric Abetz, who is the legislation's author. With many of these sites coming from offshore, taking a legal route could mean the sites may be visible to Australians for an extended period of time.

Obviously, free speech and privacy advocates in the country are up in arms over the bill. The Australian Privacy Foundation pointed out that government officials have advised those behind the bill that such measures were unnecessary.

"This Government's extremism has reached new heights today," APF Chair Roger Clarke said in a statement.

"How can a politician claim the right to hold office if they set out to undermine the
critical democratic right of freedom of speech, and blatantly decline to evaluate the
impact of measures put before the Parliament?"


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