Unformatted Attachment Preview
Heading: Internet Censoring
This paper intends to discuss the issue concerning “Should there be greater censorship of the
Internet?” Internet censorship is a controversial topic in Australia, and in the world at large. The
Australian government has made a proposal concerning the need to filter some of the websites
from the public through the Australian internet filter. This filter, also known as the firewall, aims
at protecting the Australian people against the unethical content in the internet. Here, ethical
conduct refers to the accepted standards of doing right and wrong. In censoring the internet, the
Australian government will block pages upon finding it unacceptable. Nevertheless, the filter
gives them the capacity to violate human freedom of speech if it considers the particular speech
unacceptable. Explicitly, the proposed filter will cost taxpayers millions of dollars in the process
of implementing it, as well as other millions during its maintenance.
Steel (2009) indicates that effective filters have the potential to slow the internet. Nevertheless,
the benefits of this proposed censorship easily bypass the cost of the filter. It is worth noting that
the government’s intention to block the unethical content in the internet will not necessarily yield
positive outcomes to the public. It is imperative to consider that the Australian Internet Filter is
not the appropriate method of limiting access to acceptable content. This is because it is a waste
of money and time effort, and allows the government to greatly influence on the public views.
The Australian Government’s proposed Internet Censorship Scheme has a number of costs,
which are both direct and indirect in relation to their productive and financial costs. Financial
costs entail the net cost incurred by implementing the plan, and extend to variables including the
need for constant maintenance and filtering. The Federal Government needs to establish proper
ways of funding these intentions. In the present economic times and the predictable future,
funding necessary in procurement, implementation, and maintenance of the systems can be hard
to achieve, with the probability of these costs to be transmitted to the Internet Service Providers
to implement. The planned initial cost for the initial for years of enforcing the Australia Internet
Censorship plan was to $44 million, suggested by the Australian labor party’s initial budget upon
election (Macnamara 2010).
With respect to the international recession, this figure inclusive of the $128 million suggested for
law execution and cyber security was huge figure. The approximated costs are the same as the
ones suggested by Howard Government 204 report of $45 million meant for the installation
costs, as well as the $35 million minimum in yearly administrative costs. Some of the main
factors influencing the censorship plan’s costs include properties, such as, ISP sizes, ISP service,
and the selected filtering solution (Steel 2009).
Notably, bigger ISP and filters that are more correct can unavoidably translate to greater costs.
The first implementation costs can entail attainment of the necessary software or hardware and
their incorporation into the present systems, which could involve system and network
configurations. The constant costs vary slightly and more engaged. Therefore, these costs are
getting harder to foresee, but include preservation of any obtained software or hardware, filter
and blacklist updating and consumer assistance regarding blocking or some websites. The
Federal Government does not account for these ongoing costs, and present suggestions are that
the expenses would be transmitted to the internet subscribers via ISPs, who might or might not
be ready to take up the administrative and extra technical enforcement costs (Langley 2009).
According to the Australian government, internet censoring is critical in safeguarding people
against unethical content. The amount of internet content is ever-growing and expansive, and
thus enhancing the accessibility of children to quantity of unethical material. For instance,
innocent searches in the internet, such as, sleeping beauty, could lead to pornographic images
shown on the internet. Even though the major intention of the suggested internet filter is to
safeguard people from this content, implementation of the filter will not achieve this objective
due to some problems associated with firewall. To start with, the basic technique utilized in the
block content has basic loopholes, authorizing unethical material to pass. Secondly, the filter is
inappropriate, as firewall can be bypassed easily. Internet is not the only means of transmitting
unacceptable materials to the public, as there are other numerous alternatives. Besides, unethical
material may be spread to the people on the internet through other means that cannot be
controlled by the proposed filter (Beattie 2009).
Moreover, Griffith (2002) advocates that firewall can also use the blacklist technique to block off
unacceptable content from reaching the public. Nevertheless, the method faces certain problems.
The government should create a list of websites, especially as the internet is wide; there is a high
probability that the lists will be missing other sites containing questionable content. In addition,
internet is continuously expanding daily with latest websites. If the government decides to
blacklist every website containing unethical material, it will require constant and reliable
updating. Upon leaking of the ACMA blacklisting of Wikileaks in 2009, it explicit that the
ACMA have not managed to reliably blacklist sites containing unethical material. MySpace
profiles and YouTube pages were seen in the blacklist among websites containing unacceptable
material. It was only upon the leaking and publishing of the blacklist did the Australian
government correct it; hence, causing a new list that had over half the previous entries removed
Furthermore, Rowland (2005) says that a comprehensive blacklist, which reliably and constantly
updated will not be effective in safeguarding the public from unethical websites. This is because
it is easy to bypass the firewall. Besides, the availability of free proxies throughout the web
hinders the index-based filters from blocking one from accessing the website on its blacklist. The
analysis-based filtering mechanisms will not also effectively prevent unethical content from
reaching the public. These methods depend on the ability to view the material in order to analyze
and filter it accurately. Nevertheless, unethical content distributors may encrypt the files they
spread, making analysis-based filtering ineffective (Steel 2009).
Although firewall is intended to block unethical websites, not each unacceptable content is in the
websites. This is because such material may be spread via other means, such as, DVDs and
portable hard drives that firewall cannot prevent. On the internet, unethical material may be
circulated between individuals through pee-to-peer systems in spite of the firewall availability
What is more, Ringmar (2007) asserts that if the Australian government is allowed to do internet
censorship, it will be encouraged to hide a lot of vital information from the public, especially the
politically fundamental information. In fact, this has been experienced earlier without the
citizen’s knowledge. Upon leaking the blacklist on Wikileaks, the ACMA obstructed the public
from accessing the two pages of Wikileaks: one with blacklist, while the other one justifying its
publishing. This demonstrates a government’s movement away from the human rights and
freedom enjoyed today and towards a situation with a great degree of regulation over the people,
a totalitarian rule. The government realized something that would change the public view aspect
against them, and cause possible essential national unrest. Thus, the government resolved to hide
it from the populations. It is highly possible that the government has been concealing vital
information from the public ever since its conception (Rowland 2005).
In nations like China, where the government censored the internet, devastating and important
incidences of the Chinese history were hidden from the public. One of these events entails the
1989 massacre of workers and students at Tiananmen Square. The information concerns the
government’s killing of 10,000 people after protesting against it (Langley 2009). In fact, any
information regarding this incident was concealed from the public, and the media from
communicating it to the public. The government patrols the new sites and blog posts and
removes any information relating to the incident. The Chinese government realized the event
would create national unrest, and it concealed it from the public. Similarly, Delta (2009) says
that the Australian government realized that the leaked blacklist and concealed from the public.
As stated above, the leaked blacklist had URL’s and YouTube, as well as other harmless sites.
Maybe these harmless sites had information on the politically critical matters. Besides, the
government sets to censor more without the people’s knowledge, as the public would not know
whatever it does not hear or see. The Chinese incident indicates a possibility of the Australian
government to do the same information. Therefore, the suggested firewall will offer the
government a simple tool of obstructing access to numerous resources that could inform on it
Another reason against Internet Censorship in Australia is that it violates public’s right to
information. Internet censorship gives the government the ability to obstruct the populations
from accessing the material containing sensitive information on matters that must not be
concealed, such as, abortion. Infringement of this human right is associated to their freedom of
speech. If people are denied the freedom to share information and ideas online, then this amounts
to muting them. In fact, the Australian constitution has no direct provision, which entitles
Australians to speech; hence, the government could lawfully silence the people, should they
express contrary opinions from its wishes. Notably, the exclusion of the right from the
constitution lawfully enables the government to silence the people without any appropriate
As Deibert (2010) maintains, Australians lack the right to express themselves freely, though not
under the legislation. The Internet Filter will infringe the right and more, as per the ratified
treaty. The country ratified the treaty of International Covenant on Civil Political Rights, and
implemented it on November 13, 1980. Article 19 of the treaty advocates for everyone’s freedom
to search, obtain, and impart ideas and information of all forms, despite the frontiers, written,
verbal, or printed, and via any media. The suggested filter is apparently in violation of freedom
of expression, as expressed opinions and ideas can be muted if people protest the government’s
ethics. Secondly, it breaches human freedom to search and obtain information of all types, as
people can only get information on authorized topics (Biagi 2012).
Certainly, Macnamara (2010) says that participating in the treaty enables the country to act like
an enlightened nation that cares for the people’s political rights. Nevertheless, in the country,
treaties may neither impose responsibilities on people nor make rights in local laws. Therefore, if
the treaty does not need the government to maintain the rights given to Australian public, then it
should not sign it. In addition, the government’s membership of the treaty makes it appear as if it
is part of the globe. It fears that if the people’s views vary from the rest of the globe and they are
not members of the treaties, other nations would not be obligated to the rules created by the
treaties. Besides, they fear that they will not manage to realize their global objectives without
economic and military involvement, locations in which they are weak and vulnerable
Without doubt, the regulation of internet is a controversial argument. The major purpose of the
Australian Internet Censorship is to safeguard the unethical material. It is worth noting that the
filters do certainly obstruct unethical content are regulated, noted, and handled within acceptable
practices. Nevertheless, government recent and reports incidents have demonstrated that the
planned enforcement does not obtain these ideas. Additionally, the use of internet filters by the
government is likely to slow down the internet. Moreover, leaking of the blacklist designed by
the government for filtering sites that contain unethical material had been selected for filtering.
This indicates that the government cannot be relied on reliably obstruct unethical content. In
Australia, there is no freedom of speech, and with filtering, the government will have more
power to confiscate politically vital information or views from the public perspective.
Beattie, S 2009, Community, space and online censorship regulating pornotopia, Ashgate,
Surrey, England Burlington, VT. Pp. 1-25.
Biagi, S 2012, Media/impact: an introduction to mass media, Wadsworth Cengage Learning,
Australia Boston. Pp. 1-25.
Cetti, R 2011, Offensive to a Reasonable Adult: Film Censorship in 'Secular' Australia, Wider
Screenings TM, New York. Pp. 1-30.
Deibert, RJ 2010, Access controlled: the shaping of power, rights, and rule in cyberspace, MIT
Press, Cambridge, Mass. Pp. 1-20.
Delta, G 2009, Law of the Internet, Aspen Publishers, Frederick, MD. Pp. 5-30.
Giacomello, G 2005, National governments and control of the Internet: a digital challenge,
Routledge, New York. Pp.1-15.
Griffith, G 2002, Censorship in Australia: regulating the Internet and other recent
developments, New South Wales Parliamentary Library Research Service, Sydney. Pp.120.
Langley, A 2009, Tiananmen Square: Massacre Crushes China’s Democracy Movement.
Snapshots in History. Pp. 1-15.
Macnamara, J 2010, The 21st century media (r) evolution: emergent communication practices,
Peter Lang, New York. Pp. 180-200.
Ringmar, E 2007, A blogger's manifesto: free speech and censorship in the age of the Internet.
London New York: Anthem Press. Pp. 60-80
Rowland, D 2005, Information technology law, London Portland, Or: Cavendish Pub, Pp. 450480.
Steel, CMS 2009, ‘Child pornography in peer-to-peer networks’, ScienceDirect, vol. 33, no. 8,