Welcome readers of The Inquirer. You probably came here after clicking that strange picture of a large red rock on the side of The Inquirer’s website and are now wondering what on earth is going on? To put it simply, the Australian Government intends to censor Internet access down under. They are doing this despite their own lab tests showing filtering will reduce Internet speeds, block tens of thousands of innocent websites and be completely ineffective at its goal of protecting children. More about it’s failings here and will your blog be banned in Australia.

Apart from Computerworld and Crikey, Australian media remains alarmingly silent on the latest development in the Government’s mandatory filtering plan: There is no way to completely opt-out. The good news is international outlets understand the importance of stopping what’s about to take place and are picking the story up. It’s also quickly climbing the ladder on Digg.

Jacqui Cheng at Ars Technica writes:

‘Assuming this is in fact the way the scheme is implemented in practice, it raises plenty of troubling questions. “Illegal” is a broad definition, leaving users wondering exactly what kinds of content will end up falling prey to the government’s apparently mandatory filtering restrictions. Will Big Content be ringing up the Aussie government soon to have tracker sites added to the blacklist? What about sites that discuss topics like at-home bomb making, or something a little less explosive, like DVD decryption tools? And how about those sites that advise users on how to get around the filters? Will various Wikipedia pages be blocked?

Australia continues to ignore its own government-funded studies from 2006 that show ISP-level filtering to be ineffective and costly. The Australian government’s disregard for those prior studies suggests that the driving force behind the current plan is more political than technical.’

Karl Bode from Broadband Reports:

‘So far similar efforts here in the States have either been simply too stupid to work or ruled unconstitutional. But as we mentioned yesterday, with child porn used as a rallying cry, there’s a growing push in the States to use Deep Packet Inspection to monitor each and every packet you send and receive for legality. At the heart of most of these efforts? The entertainment industry, who wants ISPs and government to protect their failing business models.’

Duncan Riley for Crikey:

‘Imagine owning a physical shop, to go to work one morning to discover the Government has closed down your business because someone spray painted “illegal” words on your door overnight. No one would stand for this, but this is exactly what the Government is saying it will do to Australian businesses online under this proposal.’

But my favourite of the bunch has to come from Nick Farrell at The Inquirer:

‘Internet Service Providers have warned that the glorious filter will slow Australian internet speeds down to that of a three-legged dingo dragging a baby up Ayers’ Rock.’

Browsing forums and blogs today, it’s surprising to see how many Australians are only just becoming aware of the Government’s censorship plans. I haven’t seen anyone happy about it though. More and more people are penning letters to Conroy and other politicians to express their outrage.