Australia's Filtering Ideals

Under Australia's new Internet filtering scheme, citizens will be unable to opt out of inclusion. Instead, they will be able to choose between two blacklists; one blocks content inappropriate for children, the other blocks illegal material.

Shortly after the plan was unveiled in late 2007, an Australian teen cracked the AU$84 filter almost immediately.

In January of this year, our own Rob Faris blogged about the incident, saying, "In placing the controls in the hands of ISPs—who so far seem to be understandably reluctant to take over this role—the calculus of filtering and circumvention change somewhat, but the vulnerability to circumvention remains."

The latest concerns in the case involve not only user ability to get around the filters, but also the fact that the filtering technology will likely slow Internet speeds. Libertarians are also concerned that the filter could later be expanded to include subjects like euthanasia, protest, and drugs.

Although the child-friendly filter has a simple opt-out option, it is not yet clear what will be included in it, or to what ages it will be geared.

Australia's policies differ from the United States in that illegal material found on the web in the U.S. is often removed by a take-down order, rather than filtered from view.

The Standard