Australia looks set to join China as a state-mandated Internet censor. The measure is primarily aimed at combating online child pornography, but an open-ended statement from the government’s communications minister sounds ominous:
…we are talking about mandatory blocking, where possible, of illegal material.
“Where possible”? That seems pretty capricious.
The government must have recognized the nature of the proposal, as early drafts included ISP-level opt-out clauses. Say you wanted unrestricted access to the Internet. You’d contact your ISP and they’d put you on a “don’t censor this connection” list.
That scenario is no longer possible; the whole country will be subject to the “virtual curtain.”
The thing about this, which is similar to the war on Usenet here in the U.S., is that it’s damn near impossible to come out against measures that, to the letter, have anything to do with eliminating child pornography. Nothing like appearing to be soft on child porn to completely ruin your reputation, right?