Australia gives up on internet censorship plans

The Australian government has decided that its plans to censor the internet are really not worth a fettered dingo’s kidneys.

For years the country has debated building an internet rabbit proof fence, which is the Aussie equivalent of the Great Firewall of China. The Australians claimed that they were terrified of terrorists, paedophiles and unchristian religious faiths who might attempt to subvert the Aussie way of life.

Needless to say this caused a bit of a stink down under and it was decided to drop all mention of it during the last Aussie election.

Now the Federal Government has formally abandoned plans to introduce legislation for mandatory ISP filtering.

ISPs will be directed by the Government and the Australian Federal Police to block “child abuse websites” that feature on an INTERPOL block list.

According to IT News, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, who championed the rabbit proof fence approach, tried to make this sound like it was a crackdown.

He said that Australia’s largest ISPs have been issued notices requiring them to block these illegal sites in accordance with their obligations under the Telecommunications Act 1997.

He said that the Australian Federal Police will now begin issuing notices to smaller ISPs and will work closely to assist them in meeting their obligation under Australian law and prevent their services being used for illegal activities.

This would be much more useful than any mandatory filtering legislation, Conroy claimed.

But it does amount to scaling back of the original plans. While it probably would not stop much of the way of kiddie porn finding its way into the country, it means that the Australian government can pretend it is doing something about it, without having to go all Chinese on the matter.