The Australian government yesterday announced that the much-opposed internet filter would be going ahead.

We believe that this is a terrible move that will push this country’s already substandard internet facilities even further behind the rest of the world, a situation that is unacceptable for business in this country.

Without touching on the myriad thorny ethical and ideological issues that censorship brings, the issue can be distilled down into several simple points:

  • The Rudd government claims that the aim of the filter is to protect children from inappropriate material. However, their own report from the filter trials reports that while the the filter’s accuracy in blocking inappropriate sites is 100% with the initial list of 2000 sites, it falls to as low as 78.8% with an expanded blacklist – how ineffective will it be with a list of 10,000 sites or more? Furthermore, the filter only targets web traffic, leaving the channels where most child porn exchanges take place (FTP, Bit Torrent, email etc) unblocked. Relying on such an ineffectual tool will lead parents to be less vigilant in monitoring their children’s internet usage – a false sense of security that will cause more harm than good.
  • Not only is the filter largely ineffective, it brings with it serious performance issues that cannot be ignored. The government’s report concludes that the performance impact for end users is “negligible” – but the actual numbers reported vary from an actual speed increase, in one case, to decreases ranging from 9% up to 44%. Given how far Australia lags behind the rest of the first world in terms of network speeds, in our opinion any decrease in performance is absolutely unacceptable.

Legislation requiring ISPs to implement the filter will be introduced into parliament next year. Full implementation will apparently take around 12 months.

What is important is that it’s not too late – this filter can still be stopped. Support Electronic Frontiers Australia in their efforts to keep the internet open in Australia with their No Clean Feed campaign.

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