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Friday, April 23, 2010

'Net nanny' furor

Australia's in an uproar over the government's push for a formal internet policing rule, according to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald (search the site for "net censorship").

Australia already censors some Wikileaks pages, it has been reported. The new measure would formalize net filtering by the communications board. But critics, deriding government "net nannies," are outraged that they can learn more from Jeff Bleich, U.S. ambassador to Australia, than from their own government. The envoy has said the United States believes there are workable alternatives to net censorship.

Australian critics are demanding that their officials reveal the content of discussions with the U.S. envoy.

Defenders of the net control measure point out that last month the European Commission proposed that member states block sites with child pornography on them. The trouble with this idea is that it won't be long before other illegal and reprehensible sites are routinely blocked. Perhaps Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth. As Irish anti-censorship activists have pointed out: the issue is "patrol versus control" when it comes to content that is beyond the pale.

I'd like to know more about the 'alternatives' myself. Quiet pressure on net providers (as the FBI has done to black out sites)? Programs which unreasonably slow up sites (as the Pentagon apparently did at the onset of Iraq hostilities)?

What is your sex IQ? Marty Klein, PhD, warns on his Sexual Intelligence blog at Psychology Today that net censorship in America is far from improbable. He tells of a state attempt to prohibit internet transmission of supposedly indecent materials and noted that the law was so vaguely defined that his blog could have been targted by authorities.

An interesting collection of articles on China net censorship is found at

Keeping us away from "the masses" is the effect of apparent Google and Yahoo url filtering.

I again tried to use Yahoo's blog monitor service for this blog. I used a different computer system 40 miles away and got the same result. The url works to "preview this site" but is then rejected for monitoring -- as either having a non-valid web address or being improperly formatted (but I tried several formats and none worked for that purpose).

Google's alert service operates differently, whereby keywords are identified in news and-or blog posts and the url is sent. However, this blog never shows up on Google blog alerts with the keyword "censorship."

I'm using some other tests to see whether the blog is being roped off, perhaps by those alternative measures of which Bleich spoke.

Update April 27, 2010a list for professional journalists about this issue. One writer ran into an access problem immediately. Another tossed out a red herring that brought up an issue related to one of the links.

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