Chinese filtering move demonstrates futility of Australian censorship proposal

Duncan Riley

The Chinese Government has issued a decree that all computers sold in the country must include filtering software from July 1. The software will allow the Chinese Government to filter sites it deems inappropriate on each PC, including the ability to regularly update computers with up-to-date filtering lists.

The need to introduce PC based filtering in China can only be interpreted one way: existing ISP level filtering in China is not adequately working, despite years of investment in technology and support staff.

So if China can't get ISP level filtering to work, why does the Australian Government believe that it's different?

Australia's proposed "Great Firewall of Australia" internet censorship regime proposes to block thousands, even possibly millions of sites (the Minister today still refuses to give a straight answer) using ISP level filtering. Unlike China, where the methods to bypass filters would be subject to strict censorship, the knowledge and tools needed to bypass the Australian version are freely available, and as far as we know, are not about to be banned either. Tools is probably the wrong way of putting it, because tools imply some level of effort, where as bypassing ISP level filtering isn't anywhere nearly that hard.

Proof that filtering doesn't work effectively in China is yet another reason why the Australian Government must drop its draconian internet censorship policy. Who knows: Australia's Mandarin speaking Prime Minister may actually recognize that if his mates in China can't get it right....

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