The Sydney Morning Herald is reporting this morning that Nicholas Cowdery, QC, the New South WalesDirector of Public Prosecutions has said that the Australian government's plans for Internet filtering,
"are going to have very limited, if any, success in achieving the aims that their proponents set out for them."
Director Crowley also said that, "Crime prevention methods need to be practical," implying that the filtering approach espoused by the government, wasn't.
As the Herald story pointed out, the filtering trials have shown that the filters created not only don't keep out all sites banned by the government, but can keep web-surfers from looking at harmless websites including those run by the Australian government.
Director Cowdery's comments will make the government's plans for making mandatory Internet filtering for all Australian's a much harder political sale. The filtering trials are now coming to an end, and the government is promising to release the results in the next few weeks.
In related news, the New York Times had a story earlier this week about Iraq using its new censorship laws as a mechanism to try to control what can and cannot be accessed over the Internet as well as what can be published in the country. The Times says that the Iraqi government is moving,
"to ban (Internet) sites deemed harmful to the public, to require Internet cafes to register with the authorities and to press publishers to censor books."
Internet cafes that do not register with the government will be closed.
Last month, the Times reports, a government committee recommended that,
"the drafting of a law allowing for official Internet monitoring and the prosecution of violators be expedited."
I doubt that it will do much good. As happened elsewhere like in neighboring Iran, citizens of Iraq (and Australia) will quickly find novel ways around any government censorship.
I do wonder, though, whether the US will see fit to help Iraqi activists get around the government's Internet censorship controls like it is doing with Iranian activists?
Robert N. Charette is a Contributing Editor to IEEE Spectrum and an acknowledged international authority on information technology and systems risk management. A self-described “risk ecologist,” he is interested in the intersections of business, political, technological, and societal risks. Charette is an award-winning author of multiple books and numerous articles on the subjects of risk management, project and program management, innovation, and entrepreneurship. A Life Senior Member of the IEEE, Charette was a recipient of the IEEE Computer Society’s Golden Core Award in 2008.