The Australian Government has announced that early in the new year Parliament will pass a new law making Internet filtering mandatory to keep Australians from being able to access illegal or “harmful” sites on the Internet. The plan has been widely attacked not only in Australia, but around the world.
And with good reason: The potential for abuse and the curtailment of freedom is huge.
The Australian Christian Lobby has called for tighter filtering of R and X-rated sites, though the current government is apparently “unlikely to support” their wish. But it’s clear that if John Howard were still Prime Minister, the christianists would get what they want.
And therein lies the problem: The Australian Labor Party won’t be in government forever, and without some strong protections it’s entirely possible that a future right-wing government in Australia will decide to—as critics charge—make Australia’s Internet filtering as tight and oppressive as that of China or Iran.
This move is fraught with danger for freedom and liberty. Since the government is hell-bent on enacting mandatory filtering, Australians will have to be vigilant to prevent “mission creep”. Otherwise, the rest of the world may start talking about “Australia’s Great Internet Barrier Reef” preventing its citizens from having freedom.