Censorship on the Internet

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The Rudd government of Australia wants to introduce the ‘Clean Feed’ project to control internet content. ‘Clean Feed’ aims to censor material on the internet for all Australians, ultimately blocking some forms of content for all individuals, mainly pornography, and possibly other controversial websites on euthanasia or anorexia (Courier Mail. Daily Telegraph). This paper explores the advantages and disadvantages of internet censorship. It argues that the government no longer needs to spend millions on internet censorship, because it cannot achieve the outcomes it aims for, because there are already many ways of accessing controversial and illegal content. Instead, the government should focus on generating a self-censorship policy, which focuses on educating the public, especially schools and parents, in using free internet censorship software and in educating the people about the harms of accessing illicit content on the web. Internet censorship is not entirely flawed, because the principle behind it is that the internet should be a safe virtual space for everyone, especially children. Children should be protected from pornographic content, and being victims of pornography too (Flood). Flood shows that “children and adolescents may be shocked or disturbed by premature or inadvertent encounters with sexually explicit material per se” (388). Since the internet has become increasingly accessible and prominent among the youth, the government also has a responsibility to prevent children’s access to pornography online. The Christian Lobby’s Jim Wallace tells the Four Corners that he finds it "quite amazing" that anyone would be against the filter plans (Ross). He asserts his own censorship ideals: "The bigger principle here is to establish the principle that the internet is not a free zone and I think that given the movement of technology and given the expectation of society that what the Government is proposing is therefore a good solution” (Ross). He adds: "We’ve lobbied the Government of course and we’ve lobbied quite hard. We got the first commitment to this prior to the last election and you know we’re happy to see that the Government is delivering on it.” (Ross). Furthermore, many of these sexual websites have viruses and other computer programs that can harm computers. The Rudd government believes that internet censorship can make the internet a more family-friendly environment and a safer place for children to explore. It then aims to filter questionable content, such as pornography, abortion, profanity, sexual content, suicide and any other material that may seem obscene and unfit for children (Courier Mail. Daily Telegraph). It does so in the role of a caring parent, who seeks to guide the moral development of the nation’s children. Internet censorship is not all-encompassing, so it does not entirely obstruct the freedom of speech. Internet censorship is limited in reach and impact in Australia. The Clean Feed is designed to have two filters, one being a mandatory stipulation for all Internet Service Providers, and this will target illegal web pages, terrorism, and child pornography. The second filter will censor out all material which is rated R material. This filter will be an optional filter for people in the household. This means that internet censorship remains as a form of self-censorship, with options for opting out for some internet

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