A groundswell of opposition to Aussie ban

A groundswell of opposition to Australian government plans to study an ISP ban on Internet gambling and other 'undesirable' websites seems to be gathering momentum in the Australian media, with several newspapers publishing posts and letters from citizens protesting that the Internet should not be censored.

Australian newspapers report that there are fears the Rudd government's planned online filter scheme could censor the Internet to "unacceptable" levels, and online users groups are warning that the government's resurrected ideas for a multi-million dollar ISP filtering policy could block a wide range of content, despite the assurance that the initial intention is that the system would censor only "illegal material".

Family First Senator Steve Fielding wants hardcore pornography banned under the new filter, while independent Senator Nick Xenaphon has proposed that 'illegal' overseas gambling sites also be banned, according to Fairfax reports.

Rudd faces arguments from the official Opposition, which is expected to block any attempt to impose a mandatory ISP filter.

Dale Clapperton, a spokesman for the Internet users' lobby group Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) told Fairfax that Internet users' freedoms will be at risk. "Any group with an axe to grind and political clout will be lobbying the Government to blacklist websites which they object to," he said. "Having all Australians' Internet access subject to a secret and unaccountable government blacklist is completely unacceptable in a liberal democracy such as Australia."

His views seemed to be echoed by correspondents on a diversity of news sites, with some additionally concerned about the possibility that filtering activity could slow speed by as much as 70 percent.

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