Thursday, March 19, 2009

Internet Blacklists in Australia

The Sydney Morning Herald looks at web blacklists and threatened censorship by Australian cummunications regulators:

The Australian communications regulator says it will fine people who hyperlink to sites on its blacklist, which has been further expanded to include several pages on the anonymous whistleblower site Wikileaks.

Wikileaks was added to the blacklist for publishing a leaked document containing Denmark's list of banned websites.

The move by the Australian Communications and Media Authority comes after it threatened the host of online broadband discussion forum Whirlpool last week with a $11,000-a-day fine over a link published in its forum to another page blacklisted by ACMA - an anti-abortion website.

In a related story, The Guardian follows the money in its look at internet censorship:

Yet the global nature of the internet means that it perhaps makes less sense these days just to point the finger at isolated cases. It's not just a question any more of naming and shaming repressive regimes – western businesses are implicated too. I don't just mean Google and Yahoo for their activities in China, but the software and hardware companies that design the filtering software and infrastructure that makes censorship possible.

Saudi Arabia, for example, blocks undesirable websites with Californian software and the Chinese have Cisco to thank for their routers and switches. As the writer Xeni Jardin has observed, the US is now in the business of exporting censorship. For the first time in history, censorship has become a profitable enterprise, not just a matter of political control.

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto

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