Internet censorship in Australia has reached unacceptable levels. Many people don’t realize that Internet filtering affects thousands of mobile users when governments block or censor websites.
If China or Australia decides to ban country or international websites on a mobile phone, users see 404–page not found.
Internet Censorship Hitting More Countries
Web blocking in Australia by its government has become a major issue, similar to Google’s recent skirmishes with the Chinese government over Internet censorship. Government bans or control over Web publishers increases every day.
Will the people of Australia and other countries launch their mobile browsers and find Web content filtering? Yes. Is information on the Web so dangerous that Australia, a democracy, needs to control access?
Apparently the government thinks so and mobile users suffer the most from filtering. Approaching 6 billion cell phone users in the world–many with access to the mobile Web–Internet censorship in Australia, China or any country has dire consequence. This especially hurts people in developing nations where cell phones may be the sole source of information.
Internet Censorship Takes Many Forms
The Australian government not only blocks child pornography, sexually violent and criminal websites. Its Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, wants to ban sites based on “public complaints.” Which public? Politicians? People with hidden agendas? Terrorists? Who knows?
In March, 2009 ACMA, a communications watchdog, revealed an additional 1,000 web pages banned by Australian regulators, including several Wikipedia web pages, Yahoo and Google group sites–even a tour operator and several bus companies. Why were these websites banned? Why did the government use Internet censorship? Who knows?
Internet Censorship Grows with Expansion of the Mobile Web
The mobile Internet, similar to the PC-based Web, uses standard worldwide URL suffixes like dotcom, dotmobi, dot co with a country suffix. In Australia, the suffix is usually .com.au for businesses and .id.au for people. So if the Australian government decides your Australian-registered website or blog is objectionable for any reason, millions of people around the world who use mobile handsets or personal computers will never see your site.
But mobile phone users with Web access suffer the most. In developing nations such as Africa, India and other countries, mobile phones have become the primary communications channel for news, information and commerce. Without access to newspapers, magazines, television or PC’s, cell phone users are the biggest victims of government Internet censorship.
Because the mobile Internet is expanding so rapidly, it amazes me that any government leader thinks blocking will work. Even if content filtering was possible, it’s evil. Blocking human thought is impossible and so is blocking human communication in today’s wireless world.
If you live in Australia, China, Iran or any country that restricts your freedom to communicate, I feel for you. Internet censorship is the work of over zealous government tyrants. The pressure of world leaders should bear down on those who would deprive citizens of personal computer mobile phone Web access.