RealTime IT News

User Group Reacts Strongly to Internet Code of Practice

Electronic Frontiers Australia says that the government has demonstrated its contempt for the intelligence and values of Australians by approving a Code of Practice for Internet Service Providers.

The new rules require Internet users to purchase an 'Approved Filter' at a charge determined by their ISP, unless they have already installed one. There was no public consultation in the choice of 'approved' filtering products.

"In no other media does censorship operate with so little accountability," said EFA board member Danny Yee. "The government had promised that the scheme would be complaints-based and that only material found by the Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) to be 'prohibited' would be blocked, but commercial filtering products block millions of pages not reviewed by the ABA."

"Why has the government handed over its censorship powers to private companies who are not accountable to the Australian public?"

He said it is particularly worrying that the block lists are secret and that the sites blocked are not informed that they are being blocked.

"This is not consistent with censorship of other media in Australia," he said. "Information about what is banned or restricted by the Office of Film and Literature Classification is available to the public and parents and citizens would rightly be outraged if books were secretly removed from school libraries or syllabuses in response to complaints."

He said studies carried out in Australia and overseas have demonstrated that filtering software causes extensive 'collateral damage', blocking many innocuous sites and many filtering products censor massive amounts of valuable information by blocking entire domains such as geocities.com, ozemail.com.au, or deja.com.