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Australian government to introduce national web filter


Australia plans to introduce an internet filtering system to block obscene and crime-linked web sites, despite concerns it will curtail freedoms and won’t completely work, reports the Associated Press. Adopting a mandatory screening system would make Australia one of the strictest internet regulators among the world’s democracies. The Australian government on Dec. 15 said it will introduce legislation next year to implement a national filtering system to help protect Australians, especially children, from harmful material on the web–but critics say it will not prevent determined users from sharing such content and could lead to unwarranted censorship by overzealous officials. Communication Minister Stephen Conroy said the government would be transparent in compiling its blacklist of web sites, but he did not give details. The filter would aim to block material such as child pornography, bestiality, rape, and other sexual violence, along with detailed instructions about committing crimes or using illicit drugs. Such material is already banned from publication on Australian sites, but the government currently has no control over it being accessed on servers overseas. Critics say illegal material is often traded on peer-to-peer networks or chats, which would not be covered by the filter, and they worry that it would block access to legitimate content as well…

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