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  • Digital Liberty Coalition protests against web filter held across Australia
  • By Andrew Ramadge, Technology Reporter
  • NEWS.com.au
  • 13/12/2008 Make a Comment
  • Contributed by: The Rooster ( 264 articles in 2008 )
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HUNDREDS of people attended rallies in Australian capital cities yesterday to voice their opposition to the Rudd Government's planned internet filtering scheme.

The rallies, held in seven cities including Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney, were the first in a series of demonstrations organised by anti-censorship group Digital Liberty Coalition (DLC).

In Sydney a crowd of up to 300 mostly young and tech-savvy protestors gathered at Town Hall to hear guest speakers including bloggers and musicians criticise the web filtering scheme.

IT worker Jon Seymour, who runs the blogs Broadbanned Revolution and Filtering Fallacies, said he was concerned the filter had the potential to be misused.

"Even if there's no realistic scenario where it's going to be abused now, it's certainly possible that future governments might choose to use (it) to start frustrating political opinion," he said.

"We have to resist this now, because once it's in place it will be very hard to dismantle."
UNSW computer science Dane Edwards said he attended the rally to voice concern over the effect the filter would have on people who were less technologically savvy.

"For people who are technically skilled, people who know how to use computers properly, this censorship is going to be pathetically easy to defeat," he said.

"(The fear is that) a lot of material that shouldn't be blocked will be."

Under the Government's current plan, all Australians will be served a "clean" internet feed with websites on a secret blacklist maintained by the communications watchdog blocked.

A secondary filter to block material inappropriate for children will also be introduced, however users will be able to opt-out of this system by lodging a request with their internet service provider.

Opponents to the plan are concerned the filter will slow internet connection speeds and accidentally prevent access to a large number of legitimate websites.

Studies cited by the Australian Communications and Media Authority this year found web filtering software blocked the wrong content in up to 25 per cent of test cases.

Anti-censorship advocates are also concerned that the secret blacklist of websites to be blocked for all users could be misused or expanded for political reasons.

DLC Sydney rally coordinator Jerry Hutchinson said the low take-up of existing free web filtering software, introduced by the previous government, showed that parents were not interested in the concept.

"The Howard government spent a lot of money on that and people aren't downloading it," Mr Hutchinson said.

"Why? Because people can monitor their own children – they don't need censorship in their home."

A live trial of filtering software is scheduled to begin this month, with internet service providers Optus and iiNet taking part in the test.

Australia's biggest ISP Telstra has refused to take part, with chief operating officer Greg Winn calling the Government's plan a "pipe dream".

DLC plans to hold anti-filter demonstrations in capital cities once a month until March, when it will promote a national protest in Canberra called March in March.

Source: https://www.news.com.au/technology/story/0,28348,24795948-5014239,00.html


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