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 -
- Background information
- Contact details for media
* Great Australian Internet Blackout
* EFA's No Clean Feed campaign
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.
Mr Peter Black
Phone: 0421 636 496
Email: pete.black at efa.org.au
Mr Colin Jacobs
Phone: 0402 631 955
Email: cjacobs at efa.org.au