Electronic Frontiers Australia today announced that over 500 web Australian sites will be "blacked out" on Australia day in protest against the Rudd government's mandatory Internet filtering plan. Included among them are the Australian Greens, an Internet service provider, media outlets, and hundreds of other Australian businesses and organisations.

"This policy has caused considerable anxiety amongst Australian Internet users," said EFA Vice-Chair Colin Jacobs. "The idea that the Government will be inserting itself in every Internet connection in the country is a tough one to swallow, especially without a workable policy goal behind it."

The "Great Australian Internet Blackout" was the brainchild of activist Jeff Waugh, and is endorsed and supported by EFA. For a week starting on Australia Day, participating web sites will appear to turn black and will display a one-time message to visitors explaining the Government's plan and offering them more information before allowing visitors to continue as normal.

The plan, which will see all Australian Internet connections subject to a Government-controlled blacklist of banned sites, will apply to all Australian Internet connections within 12 months of the legislation being passed. Although originally touted as a "cyber-safety" policy, the resulting filter will not filter out all material unsuitable for children, instead targeting a select list of "refused classification" material, which would includes content dealing with crime, drugs and certain types of adult material.

Greens Communications spokesman Senator Scott Ludlam, in deciding to support the campaign, said "The Government's plan will not protect children, will do nothing to crack down on criminal activity online, and sets a dangerous precedent of centralised net censorship."

Concerns with the list include its broad scope, it's secret nature, and the inability of Australian businesses to know if and when they have been placed on the list. "One of our main concerns is how the list might expand in the future," said Jacobs. "It's hard to imagine this and all future governments responding to special interests, electoral pressure and the news cycle only with restraint forevermore."

The Internet Blackout on Australia Day marks an escalation of opposition to the plan, which will continue throughout the year. "Our goal is to ensure the Australian public know what they're in for," said Peter Black, EFA's campaign manager. "It's important that such a major and expensive policy gets the public scrutiny it deserves."

- Ends -

Below is:

- Background information
- Contact details for media

Background:

* Great Australian Internet Blackout
- http://internetblackout.com.au/

* EFA's No Clean Feed campaign
- http://nocleanfeed.com/

About EFA:

Electronic Frontiers Australia Inc. (EFA) is a non-profit national organisation representing Internet users concerned with on-line rights and freedoms. EFA was established in 1994, is independent of government and commerce, and is funded by membership subscriptions and donations from individuals and organisations with an altruistic interest in promoting online civil liberties.

Media Contacts:

Mr Peter Black
Campaign Manager
Phone: 0421 636 496
Email: pete.black at efa.org.au

Mr Colin Jacobs
EFA Vice-Chair
Phone: 0402 631 955
Email: cjacobs at efa.org.au

6 comments

  1. As a Kiwi living in Australia I am applled at what is happening to my cousins in this country regarding centralised internet filtering. Not even the United States would dare even contemplate this as this goes againts their very core of freedome speech and expression nor even Great Britain with its thousands of CCTV cameras would attempt this . The NZ government must be looking sideways at Australia as NZ prides itself on intellectual freedom and freedom of expression. I dont know what Ruud or his puppet Conroy myst be thinking but this smacks of a sinister agenda by the religious conservatives in Australia that Rudd belongs to. This is absolutely disgusting and China must be looking in glee as a 1st World Democratic nation implemets this lunacy - the great Aussie Ocker Firewall. If a site is illegal it should be referred to the Police not left up to a bunch of simpering beuracrats. All sites refused classification should be considered illegal - but will this stretch to sites that fall out of the Aussie RC system like many in the USA ??? which are not illegal- i.e legal porn sites , alternative medicene etc etc , the list goes on.
    Any way I will simply get subscribe to a VPN connection and by pass this pathetic attempt. Net Nanny is 10000 times better. PARENTS BEWARE.

    Comment by Campbell (WA) on 27 January 2010 at 10:23 pm
  2. Quote by Kevin Rudd today taken from News.com.au:

    He said it was not his place to "provide individual personal and moral advice to the young people of Australia".

    "My personal position is that it's your right as a fellow Australian and your listeners' rights as fellow Australians to make their own private personal decision on these moral matters," he said.

    "That's my position .. if Mr Abbott has a different view, that's a matter for him.

    "My view is that these are decisions which are best made and properly made individually and personally by the folk concerned ... taking the advice of friends, family, mums, dads.

    "That's the way these things should be approached; that's my policy, that's my personal approach; that's the one I've applied to my own family as well."

    Yet that is exactley what his government is doing with an internet filter?

    Comment by Reid on 28 January 2010 at 1:57 am
  3. Why the hell would Rudd say that then get Conroy to implement the great australian firewall ???????????????????????

    Comment by Campbell (WA) on 28 January 2010 at 4:36 am
  4. Because Rudd is a politician.

    Comment by Reid on 28 January 2010 at 5:11 am
  5. Regardless of what the government does there are ways around all of this as we all know as suggested by Campbell (WA). All this will be doing is inconveniencing the average user on the internet. The fact that they wish to take away our right to discriminate what sites we visit and become a patron of, is a violation of our rights as an Australian citizens.

    If the Prime Minister wants to control the issue of pornography and the stalkers of children by sick individuals on the internet here a better alternative.

    Firstly all Australian schools that are provided funding must block the list of sites provided by the government of government appointed committee. Secondly this same list should be provided to the parents of students in the school so as to block them from access at home.

    Government suggestions as to what I may read see or hear and deem to be unsuitable is totally unacceptable to me. While there are many sites I detest on this www, the blocking of these sites by our government is totalitarian at best. If a site is conducting illegal activity close it down and arrest those individuals involved! As usual it’s a case of “let’s tell everyone what they should do and what’s best for them”. The loss of freedoms in this country is one of the biggest threats to us all. The implementation of this ill conceived regulation is a disgrace.

    One issue mentioned on an earlier post, “cyber bulling” is something that deserves far more attention. Please Mr Rudd just help parents do their job “parenting” not control and inconvenience the vast majority of people from being informed and simply having fun.

    Comment by Tony Priest on 28 January 2010 at 8:39 am
  6. I'm pretty sure that Labor is breaking an election promise by making this manditory, however I have been unable to find the original text where the promise was made. Does anyone know where this is?

    Comment by Mathew on 28 January 2010 at 6:16 pm