A plan by the Australian government to censor the Internet is receiving criticism from the Obama administration, saying it goes against stated U.S. foreign policy of using an open Internet to spread economic growth and global security, according to Australian news site The Punch.
Responding to questions about the filter from The Punch, U.S. State Department spokesman Noel Clay said: “The U.S. and Australia are close partners on issues related to cyber matters generally, including national security and economic issues. We do not discuss the details of specific diplomatic exchanges, but can say that in the context of that ongoing relationship, we have raised our concerns on this matter with Australian officials.”
The Australian Communications and Media Authority maintains a top-secret blacklist of websites that form the basis for the mandatory filter for ISPs to follow. In 2009, an earlier version of the list was leaked and published by WikiLeaks, which revealed the list contained names of online poker sites, Wikipedia entries, euthanasia sites and various pornographic sites. As reported by The Sydney Morning Herald, the list also had the websites of a tour operator and a Queensland dentist.
The leaked list contained 2,395 sites; however, the Australian government has said it will expand it to 10,000 sites or more, according to the Herald.
Australia’s Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has repeatedly claimed his proposed mandatory filters would target only “illegal” content, mainly child pornography. However, critics of the plan say the scope of content to be censored is too broad, the filter would be ineffective or slow Internet speeds, and the list of banned material could be leaked to the public.