Australian Internet to Censor 500 Websites in July

Jun 23, 2011 6:00 AM PST

SYDNEY, Australia — Australia’s federal government and two major ISPs will be censoring more than 500 websites in July that they feel are unsuitable for the public.

According to reports, the plan is aimed squarely at blocking child porn sites and is being voluntarily driven by Telstra and Optus, two of the country’s largest ISPs.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority, along with a few global partners will be selecting the sites to be censored as part of a previously scrapped $9.8 million plan.

The two ISPs however, decided to continue with the filtering on their own.

But critics fear that the move is being done just for show, claiming that targeted sites can simply change their URL as a work around. They also fear the objectionable content can also be accessed through peer-to-peer networks and aggregation sites, where surfers can accidentally land.

Members of the Electronic Frontiers Association voiced their own concerns and said it is worried about how the blocked URL list will be created and hopes the process will include an appeals court for unfairly listed sites.

The group is calling for the government’s actions to be more transparent and are asking for an open discussion of exactly what type of content is to be censored.

Board member Colin Jacobs told the Telegraph, "There is a question about where the links are coming from and I'd like to know the answer to that. We've been waiting to hear details on this from the government. If they turn out to be zealous with the type of material that is on the list then we'd want to have a discussion about ways to introduce more transparency."

A report in Australia’s Gizmodo said, “It’s a murky, shadowy, grey area that would be better left untouched by censorship methods and better handled with international task forces and good old fashioned police work.”

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