Last year, the Australian Labor party introduced an internet filtering system which it plans to implement to all Internet companies, thus making it illegal and impossible to view certain websites.
The main idea of the internet filtering service, or Great Australian Firewall, as it has been called, is to restrict access to child pornography, bestiality and violent sexual acts like rape. The morality and reasoning of such restrictions are debateable, but that is not the purpose of this article.
On March 18, 2009, Wikileaks published a list of websites that it claimed was the list of sites that the ACMA (Australian Communications and Media Authority) planned to ban, which was then adjusted some 6 days later.
On the internet forum Whirpool which discusses internet connections and companies, a post was made by a member linking to the Wikileaks published list of banned websites. The ACMA threatened Whirpool with $11,000 of fines per day if the link was not removed.
Outrage ensued as people started to realise that the list contained not only illegal sexual acts as described above, but also other websites like anti-abortion, poker and gambling websites.
Several other websites apparently on the list of banned websites were standard pornography sites, youtube links, certain Wikipedia pages, euthanasia websites and certain fringe religious sites like satanic, anti-Christian and fetish sites.
The Labor Federal Government said that of the 1370 blocked websites, 674 were related to child pornography and 506 of the websites were classified as either R18+ or X18+, which is actually perfectly legal to view in Australia.
So why are we being restricted from perfectly legal adult sites that might not fit in with the Labor parties morality code? And what is it with gambling websites?
Is gambling online illegal in Australia? Well actually no. It is illegal for companies outside Australia to offer gambling to Australians, but not illegal for Australian companies to offer gambling to Australians because the Australian Government can regulate it.
Hence it is not illegal for Australians to play poker, but illegal for international poker companies to allow Australians to play. Betfair for example, in order to obtain a gambling licence in Australia had to disallow Australians from playing poker on their website. So this means that the internet filtering system aims to stop overseas companies doing illegal activity (even though they have no jurisdiction for them there) and stops Australians doing perfectly legal activities.
Word is, although I can’t say for sure, that the list of banned websites includes some of the biggest poker websites and casinos on the internet. You know the ones. It also bans a website that merely lists the possible poker websites that there are.
So not only is the Australian government possibly banning websites that are perfectly legal, but they are also possibly banning websites that list other websites that are perfectly legal.
What is the next stage? Banning websites that criticise the government? One has to wonder why certain youtube videos (which never display violence or sexual acts) or Wikipedia pages are presumably on the banned list.
But why stop there? It seems that the government are intent on banning any website that they can’t financially or moralistically regulate. Will UK bookies be the next to be on the banned list? Will we able to bet at Pinnacle or Olympic?
Will Australia do the same thing in reverse, as in ban Australian websites that show illegal activity in other countries? Perhaps we should ban all Australian websites that show females wearing pants, because it is illegal to do so in Sudan and is still today punishable by 40 lashes? Its laughable, but once a filtering system is in, who knows what webpages will be put on the list. Perhaps this article will not be able to be viewed in the future.
This has to stop. Whilst the banning of illegal activities like child pornography, bestiality and violent sexual acts is – as mentioned before – a debatable step, banning websites that are perfectly legal should be in itself, illegal.
As punters, some of us earn either a living or a livelihood from gambling. Others use it for making a little cash on the side or making the sports we watch more entertaining. Every punter should be strongly against such communist style internet censorship, and everyone of us should protest against this regulation with a loud voice.
Censorship of legal activates is a step against our democratic ways and freedom of life.
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