Google, Yahoo and Microsoft among others expressed deep concerns about the Australia Government's on-going plans to censor the Internet, the Sydney Morning Herald is reporting. The government, however, seems unconcerned, and still plans to introduce legislation to force ISPs to implement filters that will block access to government blacklisted web sites.
Google said that,
"In considering the Government's plans for Mandatory ISP level filtering we have listened to many views, but most importantly those of our users. We have talked directly with parents around Australia about their views on ISP level filtering. The strong view from parents was that the Government's proposal goes too far and would take away their freedom of choice around what information they and their children can access. The importance of a better effort to educate parents and children about online safety was repeatedly highlighted as the area where most effort should be focused."
Google also said that, "the filtering of material from high-volume sites (for example Wikipedia, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter) appears to not be technologically possible, as it would have such a serious impact on Internet access."
Yahoo expressed concerns that, "... mandatory filtering of all RC [Refused Classification] material could block content with a strong social, political and/or educational value" and that, "... the existing classification regime has developed in a piecemeal and reactionary manner with little regard to or basis upon empirical evidence around public attitudes or expert studies into how consumers interact with media, and particularly digital media."
Microsoft wants protection against "against arbitrary executive decision making" although, in principle, it doesn't have a problem with the Australian government's intent. Microsoft has previously indicated that it will comply with a country's laws in regard to Internet censorship.
There still have been no comments from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Australia's censorship plans and whether they are considered to interrupt the free flow of information.
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.