The recent announcement by the government that the mandatory blacklist will explicitly target computer and video games has caused much alarm in Australia. In order to clarify, we have put up a page to quickly cover the issue and which we will update as things progress:
Please feel free to spread the word. I'd like to reinforce a couple of extra points here, though.
For one, this latest expansion of the scheme has to be seen in the wider context of the plan as a whole. Sold to the electorate as a plan to protect children, it actually only targets websites that an adult is likely to encounter, and applies indiscriminately to all Australian homes and businesses. Due to technical limintations, it can't and won't stop the traffic of child abuse material. The blacklist is secret, there is no appeal, and what goes on there is controlled by Government. The potential game ban is only one alarming aspect of the plan as a whole.
EFA has repeatedly warned that, regardless of its intial scope and intentions, any government-controlled blacklisting scheme will expand in time. It's simply impossible to imagine this and future governments resisting the temptation to add content to the list when politically expedient or in response to powerful lobbies. Even if the blacklist was just targeted at child abuse material, it would soon expand to include hate speech, violent games, copyright violation, incitements to crime, adult pornography, and any other political panic of the day.
So far, however, the blacklisting scheme only applies to web sites. This means that online games such as World of Warcraft or Second Life would continue to work - only web sites making them available would be banned. Due to the limitations of filtering technology, you will be able to circumvent the filters and get to those, too. EFA will show you how - as long as the Government does not criminalize such circumvention.
Bearing in mind the ineffectiveness of blacklisting in actually protecting children or stopping illegal material, it's hard to argue that the censorship scheme will help children, Australian adults, or the speed and cost of internet access. Banning popular games would just add insult to injury. Let your elected representatives know what you think.