What's up with Australia's planned Internet filter?

Man, what’s up with Australia? I think we’ve touched on the country’s plan to block all sorts of unwanted content from reaching the country’s computers, but now Google and Yahoo have officially come out against it. Surely Google knows a thing or two about battling state-sponsored Internet censorship.

First, a little background information. There appears to be an effort going down in Australia to, I don’t know, rid the country of vice and sin. Games, movies, magazines, and whatnot are under attack by certain groups there looking to make life safe and pure for children, despite the fact that life itself is not safe or pure to begin with. Still, I suppose there’s nothing wrong with wanting to prevent small children from being exposed to hardcore pornography and graphic violence. (Note: Do whatever you want, kids, just don’t bother me in the process.) But rather than teaching kids what’s right and wrong, or parents actually doing a little parenting every now and then, groups there have started to pressure the country’s politicians to start banning all Refused Classification media from being accessed via the Internet. Anything that’s Refused Classification down there is already banned—you’ll recall that Left 4 Dead 2 was banned—so going above and beyond the call of duty by extending this ban to Internet-accessed material…

That could be the worst paragraph I’ve ever written here, but I hope the main point got across: people in Australia want all Classification Refused media banned from being accessed via the Internet.

This, I think you’ll agree, is crazy. The government’s plan is to filter whole genres of material from ever reaching the country in the first place. It’s sorta like, you know how you can’t search for Tieneman Square from inside China, you wouldn’t be able to search for, I don’t know, “ladies dressed provocatively” from within Australia.

The issue becomes that these filters are rubbish. Here’s a crude example: you’re reaching breast cancer, but the filter only sees “breast,” so it prevents you from your research.

And if the government is truly interested in blocking “bad” material, it does realize that this material is pretty much impossible to trace, right? Lord knows what’s being traded in obscure IRC rooms all over the world—you can’t patrol that.

This filter sounds like a giant waste of time, and it’s so weird to hear a Western country dabble with outright censorship.