[LINK] The 'blacklist' may be scrutinised
jwhit at janwhitaker.com
Wed May 27 10:22:42 EST 2009
[about time! No accountability is not acceptable in a liberal
democracy, assuming we are one.]
Review of website blacklist in wind
May 27, 2009
THE Federal Government is considering having a secret blacklist of
banned websites reviewed by a panel of eminent Australians or a
parliamentary committee to try to get more transparency in the
controversial internet censorship regime.
The blacklist, which has existed since 2000, is maintained by the
Australian Communications and Media Authority, which considers sites
for inclusion based on complaints from the public, groups and law
The list is supplied to the makers of internet filters, but
publication of the list is a criminal offence. This has led to
criticisms that websites could be listed without their knowing it and
without any opportunity to challenge their inclusion.
The Government became the subject of ridicule in March when
whistleblower website Wikileaks published a list of websites it
claimed was the blacklist. As well as child porn, bestiality, rape
and extreme violence sites, the list included seemingly innocuous
pages including online poker sites and the website of a dentist.
Communications Minister Stephen Conroy told a Senate estimates
hearing yesterday that the Government was "considering options for
greater transparency and accountability in respect of the blacklist",
including a regular review of the list by a panel of eminent persons
or parliamentary committee or a review of complaints by the
classification board. The ACMA blacklist is being used as the basis
for trials to test the technical feasibility of government plans to
block banned websites at the internet service provider level.
The proposal has attracted fierce criticism on free speech grounds
and from others who suggest it will be ineffective and will slow
internet speeds. Senator Conroy said the results of the trials would
be considered along with possible transparency measures before the
Government makes a final decision on implementation of the policy.
About 30,000 customers have been invited to participate in the trials
by the nine internet service providers taking part. Senator Conroy
has promised to release a report on the results of the trials, which
are expected in July.
The blacklist contains 977 websites. Senator Conroy said the
Government hoped to expand the list through co-operation with
Communications and Media Authority officials told the hearing of a 90
per cent increase in complaints about websites in the past 18 months.
They attributed this to greater public awareness of the list.
Senator Conroy has said the filtering efforts would focus on "refused
classification" material, such as child sexual abuse and instruction in crime.
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
jwhit at janwhitaker.com
Our truest response to the irrationality of the world is to paint or
sing or write, for only in such response do we find truth.
~Madeline L'Engle, writer
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