Friday, July 9, 2010

Internet Filter Rules Under Review in Australia

Via BBC -

The Australian government is conducting an independent review of websites due to be blocked by its controversial internet filter.

The country's Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, said the review was needed to see if the scheme "reflects current community standards".

The project has attracted widespread criticism over what is perceived by some as government censorship.

Parliament has yet to vote on making filtering a legal requirement.

Mr Conroy said the review would look at what makes up content that currently falls under a rating, unique to Australia, called "refused classification" (RC).


Geordie Guy, vice chairman of the online liberties and rights watchdog Electronic Frontiers, told BBC News that the filtering was tied in with a rating that does not exist anywhere else in the world.

"We're the only country to have a wacky category; this is the stuff that they intend to block," he said.

"Although video games are rated Mature Audience 15+, the associated websites are 18s so all these websites would be blocked."

A previous consultation into whether video games should be able to get an R18+ rating found that out of almost 60,000 votes, nearly 98.2 percent of Australians were in favour.

"They said they would have a look at that [video games] and that's all we've heard," said Mr Guy.

"Whenever there is a consultation, if the government doesn't get the answer they want, they either have another consultation or put it on the back burner.

"Given that the goalposts on the filtering keep on moving - and the issue of who is going to pay for the costs - the earliest we could see the filtering bill go in front of the Australian parliament is September; but it could be towards the end of next year," he added.

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