What's targeted? Officially, child pornography and terrorism, but recent reports suggest the scope might be expanded.
What's behind the wall? In January 2008, the Australian Parliament began considering a law to require all Internet service providers (ISPs) to filter the content they provide to users in order to block a blacklist of objectionable sites prepared by the Australian Communications and Media Authority. Although the law is still in the planning stages, ISPs are required to have their filtering systems ready for testing by June 2009.
The government claimed that the blacklist would combat child pornography and terrorism-related sites, but in March 2009, the list of 2,935 sites was leaked by anticensorship Web site Wikileaks and revealed a much broader scope of content, including online poker, Satanism, and euthanasia. Some seemingly uncontroversial private businesses, such as a Queensland dentist's office, were also included for unknown reasons. The release of the list has dampened public support for the law, and one of Australia's largest ISPs recently announced it would not participate in the filtering tests.
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What's targeted? File-sharing
What's behind the wall? The French Parliament is debating and seems likely to pass the world's toughest antipiracy law to date. Other countries have begun cracking down on file-sharers with fines, but the French law would require ISPs to deny Internet access to those who have been repeatedly caught illegally downloading material. A new administrative body would be created and granted judicial power to enforce the law. The controversial measure is strongly supported by music and film industry leaders, as well as President Nicolas Sarkozy (whose wife Carla Bruni recently released an album incidentally), and opposed by privacy groups and cable companies.
One of the law's most controversial aspects is that it would penalize anyone whose Internet connection was used for downloading illegal material, even if the person wasn't aware of it or the network was used without permission. All people in France, in effect, would be legally required to secure their wireless networks.
What's targeted? Political radicalism, terrorist tools
What's behind the wall? India's Internet filtering is still sporadic, but the seemingly arbitrary nature of its enforcement has censorship watchdogs nervous. In 2003, the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) was created to enforce the country's filtering regime. CERT-In is the sole authority empowered to block Web sites, and there is no review or appeals process once it blacklists a site. Many blocked sites have been found to contain obscene material, but CERT-In has also shut down Hindu nationalists and other radical groups on social networking sites such as Orkut. In 2003, thousands of Indian Internet users were blocked from accessing Yahoo! Groups because CERT-In objected to a message board for a minor North Indian separatist group consisting of 25 people.
When it was revealed that the terrorists responsible for the November 2008 Mumbai attacks used Google Earth to plan their assault, a prosecutor petitioned the Bombay High Court to block the popular site. The motion was ultimately thrown out, but security concerns are also dogging a rival satellite-mapping site being developed by the Indian government itself. The government agency building the program suggests that some sensitive sites might be blurred out in the final version.
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