Oz filtering update

The protests are getting louder and their base is broadening, but so far the Australian government's nationwide filter plan is going forward. "Consumers, civil-rights activists, engineers, Internet providers and politicians from opposition parties are among the critics of a mandatory Internet filter that would block at least 1,300 Web sites prohibited by the government – mostly child pornography, excessive violence, instructions in crime or drug use and advocacy of terrorism," Yahoo News reports. Dubbed by critics as "the "Great Aussie Firewall," the Internet service provider-based filtering "promises to make Australia one of the strictest Internet regulators among democratic countries…. It would be "less severe than controls in Egypt and Iran, where bloggers have been imprisoned; in North Korea, where there is virtually no Internet access; or in China, which has a pervasive filtering system…. Canada, Sweden, the United Kingdom have filters, but they are voluntary." The filtering is scheduled to be tested through next June and has yet to be approved by Parliament. One of the world's largest children's nonprofit organizations, Save the Children, questioned the allocation of funds earlier this month (see my item on this), but proponents question those who "believe freedom of speech is more important than limiting what children can access online," Yahoo reports. Part of people's concern, reports indicate, is about using a technology that's both flawed and significantly slows down connection speeds. "A laboratory test of six filters for the Australian Communications Media Authority found they missed 3-12% of material they should have barred and wrongly blocked access to 1-8% of Web sites. The most accurate filters slowed browsing speeds up to 86%."

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