Everyone shrugs off China’s censorship of the internet with a sort of, “Well, it IS China,” attitude. However, what might come as a shock to everyone around the globe is that Australia is jumping on the censorship bandwagon behind the communist country.
For those who aren’t up to date on Australian internet policies, the new censorship really doesn’t block as much as you might think; this is mainly due to the fact that the Australian government has already outlawed X-rated pornography, casino-style internet gambling, R-rated computer games, Bit torrents, and certain forms of “hate speech,” according to TechCrunch. The new censorship just broadens those already fairly overbearing laws to include “pornography and inappropriate material,” as well.
Many readers might be appalled at the broad, overbearing inclusiveness of the selective terminology “inappropriate material.” The question at hand is, because the censorship is an opt-out program only, does that make it any better?
By opt-out, the Australian government means that you can choose to not participate; it logically follows, however, that you will most likely be asked why you choose to opt-out of the program. Say hello to big brother monitoring all of your online activity anyway, just for choosing to not be censored.
Furthermore, under Australian laws, just about anything, from questioning law decisions regarding the Aborigines to even hosting a blog with reader response sections could land you blocked and investigated before you can say “opt-out.”
Duncan Riley, writer for TechCrunch, accurately voices my own feelings on the issue, when he says that countries who begin mass censorship never stop; if anything it only increases. Don’t be surprised if every animal rights activist is doing what they can to take down online steakhouse menus before long.
Here’s the best part: minimized liberties on the internet are going to cost users. That’s right…you’ll be paying to have your internet blocked, whether you like it or not. Additionally, Riley writes that Australia’s internet speeds are already fairly expensive, and sub-par at that; isn’t it lovely when the government gains more control? Everyone suffers.
Hopefully Australia and China’s lead in blocking the internet will spur on citizens in other countries to fight government censorship of the internet, before we find ourselves drifting, (even more quickly) towards Orwell’s 1984.