The citizens of Australia face some of the greatest threats to their personal liberty and freedom since the birth of their nation - that is after their island ceased to be a prison colony for British convicts. Under the guise of protecting innocent Internet users, the Australian government has launched a mandated Internet censoring program. In creating this filter, Australia 's government joins the ranks of China , Iran and Pakistan all of which limit Internet users' freedom online.
Fortunately, for the citizens of this tourist nation, the Australian government is still testing the ISP-level system, which will eventually monitor all traffic within the governments reach.
From a libertarian perspective, this is offensive on two points: first, it shows the government is actively seeking to censor the internet. Second, it sends a message saying, "The government knows best."
This action shows an active attempt by the government of Australia to monitor its citizens' web traffic. Already in the government's "blacklist" are 10,000 malicious or pornographic sites, which the government deems should not be viewed by ordinary citizens.
What is troublesome is that this list may include websites critical of the government or other prominent institutions such as businesses and religions; two institutions which the government of Australia has already shown it is willing to protect at the cost of civil liberties.
Case in point, when Australia was home to World Youth Day simply wearing a t-shirt critical of the Catholic faith or the Pope could easily result in a $5000 fine. Albeit, World Youth Day is not the best event to protest, but the threat of fines still hampered individuals' rights to free speech. Unfortunately, it is all too easy to see Australia 's governments net-filter used in a similar fashion.
What is fortunate, at least for the time being, is that this filter is solely being used to keep internet users from websites which indeed could harm their computer. Though, the message (while possibly unintentional) is clear: the government knows best! In order to live in a free society, citizens must be able to screw up, so to speak. The Australian government - indeed any government - also has no place in deciding what is morally or physically harming to its citizens. If citizens see an issue with something around them they will actively seek to remove it from their lives; in this case by installing content filters on their home computers. There is utterly no need for a government mandate, in a free society where private firewalls are available, what is acceptable for internet users to view. Finally, while this "great firewall of Australia " is in its testing phase, individuals can opt out by contacting their Internet Service Provider.
For more information on Australia, visit http://www.australiamicroblog.com and http://www.melbournemicroblog.com.
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