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.

The Conversation (0)

Metamaterials Could Solve One of 6G’s Big Problems

There’s plenty of bandwidth available if we use reconfigurable intelligent surfaces

12 min read
An illustration depicting cellphone users at street level in a city, with wireless signals reaching them via reflecting surfaces.

Ground level in a typical urban canyon, shielded by tall buildings, will be inaccessible to some 6G frequencies. Deft placement of reconfigurable intelligent surfaces [yellow] will enable the signals to pervade these areas.

Chris Philpot

For all the tumultuous revolution in wireless technology over the past several decades, there have been a couple of constants. One is the overcrowding of radio bands, and the other is the move to escape that congestion by exploiting higher and higher frequencies. And today, as engineers roll out 5G and plan for 6G wireless, they find themselves at a crossroads: After years of designing superefficient transmitters and receivers, and of compensating for the signal losses at the end points of a radio channel, they’re beginning to realize that they are approaching the practical limits of transmitter and receiver efficiency. From now on, to get high performance as we go to higher frequencies, we will need to engineer the wireless channel itself. But how can we possibly engineer and control a wireless environment, which is determined by a host of factors, many of them random and therefore unpredictable?

Perhaps the most promising solution, right now, is to use reconfigurable intelligent surfaces. These are planar structures typically ranging in size from about 100 square centimeters to about 5 square meters or more, depending on the frequency and other factors. These surfaces use advanced substances called metamaterials to reflect and refract electromagnetic waves. Thin two-dimensional metamaterials, known as metasurfaces, can be designed to sense the local electromagnetic environment and tune the wave’s key properties, such as its amplitude, phase, and polarization, as the wave is reflected or refracted by the surface. So as the waves fall on such a surface, it can alter the incident waves’ direction so as to strengthen the channel. In fact, these metasurfaces can be programmed to make these changes dynamically, reconfiguring the signal in real time in response to changes in the wireless channel. Think of reconfigurable intelligent surfaces as the next evolution of the repeater concept.

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