Next month, Australia is going to start censoring some websites. The two largest Internet providers, Telstra and Optus, assented to restricting access to more than 500 sites with child abuse content. It will be the beginning of the implementation of a $9.8 million Federal Government scheme that aims to make Internet service providers to offer their customers an optional service for blocking sites containing Refused Classification material.
However, Internet experts claim that this kind of censorship has some drawbacks. First of all, it lacks efficiency. These restrictions won’t stop criminals from accessing the banned content because they will be able to circumvent the restrictions and unblock websites easily.
Donna Ashelford, board member of System Administrators Guild of Australia, asserts that “the effectiveness will be trivial because you're just blocking a single website address (and) a person can get around it by changing that address by just one character. Child abuse material is more likely to be exchanged on peer-to-peer and private networks anyway, and it is a matter for law enforcement.”
Moreover, people worry that some websites can be unfairly blocked. It is not clear what criteria is taken into consideration to define the sites that should be banned. It is said that some URLs will be unreasonably blocked and there is a need to make the process more transparent.
Colin Jacobs, member of the Electronic Frontiers Association, insists that his organization is “waiting to hear details on this from the Government. It they turn out to be zealous with the type of material that is on the list then we'd want to have a discussion about ways to introduce more transparency.”