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Antony Loewenstein on internet censorship

Antony Loewenstein and Christos Tsiolkas in conversationOverland presents Antony Loewenstein  with Christos Tsiolkas on Wednesday 19 November 2008, 6.30 pm for the launch of Overland 193 and a conversation about oil, war and the responsibility of public intellectuals.  

More details here.

Antony also has a piece in today’s Age on the Rudd government’s attitude to the internet:

BEFORE this year’s Beijing Olympic Games, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd chastised the Chinese authorities for blocking full access to the internet for the assembled world media: “My attitude to our friends in China is very simple”, he said. “They should have nothing to fear by open digital links with the rest of the world during this important international celebration of sport.”

Although Rudd expressed no concern for the average Chinese web user being unable to view tens of thousands of banned websites, his intervention was nevertheless a welcome call for transparency and greater democracy.

But now the Rudd government is working towards implementing an unworkable filtering process in Australia that suggests a misguided understanding of the internet and worrying tendency to censor an inherently anarchic system.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy told Radio National’s Media Report recently that the aim of the project is to “protect Australian families and kids from some material that is currently on the net . . . such as child pornography and ultra-violent sites”.

Conroy tried to assure a sceptical interviewer that although the idea had been ALP policy for years, “we are committed to work with the industry to see if it is technically feasible”.

He further claimed that similar kinds of filtering already exist in UK, Sweden, Norway, France and New Zealand and “there has been no detrimental effect on internet speed or performance”.

But Conroy is and ignoring the wider social, moral and political implications of the issue. A number of politicians, including Family First Steve Fielding and independent Nick Xenophon, have advocated blocking online gaming sites and general pornography sites. What next?

The full article is available here.

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