Australia emulates China

The Herald Sun reports that Australia is preparing to implement nationwide internet filtering (that is, censorship):

AUSTRALIA will join China in implementing mandatory censoring of the internet under plans put forward by the Federal Government. . . The government has declared it will not let internet users opt out of the proposed national internet filter.

The plan was first created as a way to combat child pronography and adult content, but could be extended to include controversial websites on euthanasia or anorexia.

Communications minister Stephen Conroy revealed the mandatory censorship to the Senate estimates committee as the Global Network Initiative, bringing together leading companies, human rights organisations, academics and investors, committed the technology firms to “protect the freedom of expression and privacy rights of their users”. . .

The net nanny proposal was originally going to allow Australians who wanted uncensored access to the web the option of contacting their internet service provider to be excluded from the service.

(Via Volokh.)

Just a few days ago, I listened to Kaithy Shaidle on PJM political predict that nationwide net filtering wasn’t far away in Canada. Lord help me, I thought she was exaggerating. Continental Europe is one thing, but we’re not there yet in the English-speaking world, right? Wrong.

Anyway, anyone who thinks that it would be used only for child pornography for long has not been paying attention. It won’t be limited to that even on the day it’s activated.

It’s worth mentioning that the current Australian government is leftist. Let’s not hear any more prattle about liberal concern for free speech. (Am I generalizing too much from one incident in a foreign country? I wish.)

UPDATE: A reader writes to tell me that this started during the preceding Conservative government.  That’s not much of a defense in any case, but is it true?  After a couple of minutes of googling, it looks like the answer is “sort of.”  Electronic Frontiers Australia has a web page denouncing the proposal.  Nowhere does it point to an origin for this proposal outside of the Labor party.  In fact, it specifically points to its origin in a press release from Labor, while they were still in opposition.

But, EFA also has a lot to say about other internet censorship laws passed by the preceding Conservative government.  Nothing as sweeping or draconian as this, to be sure, but still bad.   So you can pick your story.  If you’re anti-Labor, you can say that Labor plans to make Australia’s censorship far, far worse.  If you’re pro-Labor, you can say that (unlike the Conservatives) they haven’t actually done anything yet, and maybe they won’t.  Let’s hope the latter story pans out.

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