Friday, September 21, 2007

Government Expands "Black List" Of Banned Websites

Greenpeace Get Nervous

The Howard government has a "black list" of websites they have decided should not be viewed by any Australians. At least, not while they're in Australia. Some are porn sites, some are sites that supposedly disseminate terror propaganda, or information on how to build bombs or stage terror attacks.

But some of the sites on the government's "black list" are information sites related to terrorism and jihad, software "mashing" and peer to peer sharing.

Now the government has back-doored a new "web ban bill" described as a "bombshell" into to the Senate on the last day it sits before the federal election. No warning, no briefings. It was just suddenly there.

And the "black list" of web sites that are already blocked to all Australian users of the internet is about to grow much, much longer under the new "web ban bill".

More alleged terrorist and cyber-crime websites will be included.

But what is a terrorist or cyber-crime website under the new Howard government legislation? Nobody's sure. The wording is vague, and basically leaves it up to government ministers and the police to decide what information should disappear into the black hole of Australia's new wave of censorship.

Today, it's websites that demand violent retaliation for the slaughter of Muslims in Iraq. Tomorrow it might be a pro-conservation website explaining how locals can organize themselves into legal action groups and protest groups to stop a local forest from being chainsawed.

What few Australians now realise is that the Howard government's anti-terror legislation also includes vaguely-worded provisions stating that the disruption of a corporation's daily business practices could also be categorised as an act of terrorism.

In fact, a bunch of protesters don't have to actually chain themselves to a mining company's head office front doors to be acting like a bunch of terrorists. They merely have to have the intent, the plan, to do so.

Pre-crime in Australia is a growing reality.

From The Australian :

Australian Privacy Foundation chair Roger Clarke expressed disbelief that "the government of any country in the free world could table a Bill of this kind".

"Without warning, the Government, through Senator Coonan, is proposing to provide Federal Police with powers to censor the internet," Dr Clarke said.

"Even worse, ISPs throughout the country are to be the vehicle for censorship, by being required to block internet content."

Greens Senator Kerry Nettle said the Bill would give the Police Commissioner "enormous power over what political content Australians can look at" on the web.

"This gives the Commissioner sweeping powers which could potentially be applied to millions of websites," she said. "The Government has dropped the Bill into the Senate on the eve of an election with virtually no explanation."

Senator Nettle said environmental organisations such as Greenpeace had been accused of crime or terrorism-related actions. "Will the Police Commissioner call for Greenpeace's website to be shut down?"

Anti-terror legislation in Australia, the US, the EU and the UK was purposely crafted, and worded, to allow governments to decide that this action group or that dissenting protest organisation is actually conducting a form of terrorism, should any of these governments ever decide it is necessary to do so.

Non-government groups don't have to be conducting, or staging, terrorism against civilians to be regarded as terrorists. Merely planning protest actions against a corporation is also defined as an act of terrorism.

The Australian government, as part of its alleged fight against children being exposed to pornography or "shocking images" online, now offers free "content filters" through its NetAlert program. They sell it as a means to stop children from being exposed to pornography, but it's also about blocking "inappropriate material".

Once the software is installed, websites that the Howard government and the Police Commissioner decide should be locked out of Australian computer screens will be instantly blocked.

There are no set limits to what the Howard government or the Police Commissioner can determine is "inappropriate material."

The Howard government stealthily introduced the "web ban bill" to the Senate at the last possible moment because it didn't want the bill to come under intense scrutiny.

Not exactly a reassuring sign that their moves to ramp up censorship of the internet is being done in the best interest of the Australian people.