While child-pornography is the usual excuse given for Internet censorship, there are almost no efforts made to shut down such porn sites or prosecute those who run them.
THE Federal Government’s controversial internet censorship scheme may extend to filter more online traffic than was first thought, Broadband Minister Stephen Conroy revealed today.
In a post on his department’s blog, Senator Conroy today said technology that could filter data sent directly between computers would be tested as part of the upcoming live filtering trial.
“Technology that filters peer-to-peer and BitTorrent traffic does exist and it is anticipated that the effectiveness of this will be tested in the live pilot trial,” Senator Conroy said.
Peer-to-peer file-sharing technology is the most common way for computer users to share video, picture and music files over the internet.
It was previously thought the Government’s filtering plan would be restricted to traffic on the “world wide web” – the channel through which users view websites like news.com.au.
Senator Conroy revealed the plan to trial peer-to-peer filtering technology in a reply to critical comments made on the Digital Economy Future Directions blog launched earlier this month.
The blog was launched to encourage public input on the future of Australia’s digital economy, but has so far been saturated with comments attacking Senator Conroy over the Government’s filtering plan.
Senator Conroy addressed the level of critical feedback in his post and said he had been following discussion of the plan on social networking websites such as Twitter.
“I’m aware that this proposal has attracted significant debate and criticism – on this blog and at other places in the blogosphere,” Senator Conroy said.
“I’m following the debate at sites like Whirlpool and GetUp and on Twitter at #nocleanfeed.”
The filtering scheme has made headlines around the world in the The New York Times and British newspapers and was the target of protests held in major cities across the country earlier this month.
Live pilot trial
A live trial of filtering technology is scheduled to begin this week, but internet service providers have so far been kept in the dark over the details.
Less than a week before the trial was due to begin, participating ISPs Optus and iiNet said they had not been told if their applications had been accepted.
An Optus spokesperson today said the company had still not been notified of the status of its application.
“We still have not received notification about whether or not our proposal has been accepted, however our proposal does not include peer-to-peer filtering,” the spokesperson said.
Comment is being sought from iiNet.
‘Not like China’
Despite announcing the live pilot trial would likely include filtering peer-to-peer traffic, Senator Conroy rejected accusations that the scheme was similar to internet censorship in countries such as China.
“Freedom of speech is fundamentally important in a democratic society and there was never any suggestion that the Australian Government would seek to block political content,” Senator Conroy said.
“In this context, claims that the Government’s policy is analogous to the approach taken by countries such as Iran, China and Saudi Arabia are not justified.”
Senator Conroy said the internet filter would be in-step with existing methods to censor books, films and video games.
“Australian society has always accepted that there is some material which is not acceptable, particularly for children,” he said.
“That is why we have the National Classification Scheme for classifying films, computer games, publications and online content.”
“Australian ISPs are already subject to regulation that prohibits the hosting of certain material based upon the Scheme.
“All the Government is now seeking to do is to examine how technology can assist in filtering internationally-hosted content.” News Limited