Communications Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy has welcomed the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s anti-censorship speech one month after announcing plans to introduce mandatory ISP-level Internet content filtering.
Clinton’s speech in Washington DC overnight came nine days after Google announced that it may exit China because of cyber attacks originating from the country that appeared to be an attempt to silence or spy on human-rights activists there. Although US officials said Clinton's speech was not a reaction to Google's announcement the Secretary of State referenced Chinese censorship several times in her speech.
"Both the American people and nations that censor the Internet should understand that our government is committed to helping promote Internet freedom," Clinton said. "We want to put these tools in the hands of people who will use them to advance democracy and human rights, to fight climate change and epidemics."
In a statement Conroy said the Rudd Government "agrees with Secretary Clinton that the internet can transform societies and enable and empower individuals to engage, connect and have a greater impact than they ever have".
"That is why the Rudd Government is building the National Broadband Network to deliver high-speed broadband to all Australians," he added.
While Clinton also said that "censorship should not be in any way accepted", Conroy instead preferred to focus on another part of Clinton’s speech in his statement, which conceded “all societies recognise that freedom of expression has its limits”.
"Australians have always recognised that there is some content which is not acceptable in any civilised society,” Conroy said. “In Australia, the National Classification Board (NCB) determines the National Classification Scheme’s Guidelines, at arms length from Government, which defines Refused Classification content.”
Conroy’s statement also lashed out at critics of his controversial ISP-level Internet content filtering.
"Critics of the policy continue to mislead the Australian public by suggesting that any content other than RC-rated content will be blocked," Conroy said.
Meanwhile, organisers of a petition aiming to stop the roll out of the Federal Government’s ISP-level Internet content filter have claimed 100 supporters per hour are signing up.
The petition, drafted by the man hired as a campaign organiser for the Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA), lawyer Peter Black, will be the first submitted to parliament for consideration since the announcement of Conroy's plan in December.
Additional reporting by IDG News Service