While I’m linking to the TechCrunch article, which is probably the most stupidly alarming one I’ve found, there is definitely real reason for concern here.
Labor is following through with their plans to implement some kind of offical censoring/filtering of all Australian Internet content. Apart from the fact that this is pretty condescending and offensive to adults (who apparently can opt out of it, but who will do that — imagine the sort of scorn you’ll receive — “you want to access child porn?”), it’s also likely to be fairly pointless for the target market (tech-savvy kids can get around anything).
Most importantly of course, there’s still so little information about how they actually intend to do this. While I don’t doubt their sincerity in wanting to keep kids away from the bad things online, why do it like this? And how do they think they will even be able to do it? Some kind of blacklist of just bad sites we could live with, as it would be largely transparent to normal people (that is assuming the blacklisting service doesn’t slow down speeds for all). \
But what if they suddenly go for a commercial filtering service? Those things are a joke, as likely to block pages on sex education or breat cancer as they are to block porn — not to mention blocking a whole range of things that are OK, for consenting adults. And then there’s the damage they do to a site like Boing Boing, so eclectic that it could get banned for one blue post among thousands.
This is all speculation though. We’ll need to watch what happens here, because the future of online media in Australia could seriously change depending on what decisions they make. The options range from irrelevant to dire, which is hardly a good range to be looking at.
A more straight news story can be found here. Still alarmist language from Labor, but again, this could be nothing. Or not.