Censoring the Internet

Originally post on Political Duo.

According to wikileaks, the German authorities have shut down German, wikileaks.de without notice, a fortnight after the house of the domain sponsor, Theodor Reppe, was searched by the police.

The website claimed that the raid on March 24 was caused by WikiLeaks’ publication of Australia’s proposed secret internet censorship list though the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) told ‘Australian journalists that they did not request the intervention of the German government’.

Wikileaks had also ran into a controntation with Swiss bank Julius Baer last year when it published ‘documents exposing hundreds of millions dollars hidden by Baer under Cayman Islands trusts’. The wikileaks.org website was temporarily shut down by a California judge in an ex-parte hearing.

According to wikileaks, Germany and China are currently the only countries that have banned their website while Australia is also considering doing the same.

In the ABC Q and A live television news show broadcasted in Melbourne on 26 March 2009, Stephen Conroy, the Australian Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy has repeatedly stressed that Australia has no intention of censoring political materials,’

…the Broadcast Services Act, under which the blacklist works, has got nothing to do with political content. You would have to change the Act. Now, even my harshest critics are not suggesting we’re trying to change the Act. What they say is, “Ooh, we’re worried about what might happen in the future,” but there is no suggestion, there has never been a suggestion and there will never be a suggestion, as Louise says, from a Labor government that we’re going to look at banning political material. This is the existing standards by which current newspapers, current TV shows, current radio shows, are judged. There is no change to the criteria. Attempts to suggest that what we have been talking about are about political content are simply misleading. Simply misleading. Mischievously – mischievously misleading at times…’

And later on, ‘

… But that is not what is being proposed. I mean we believe that there is a compelling argument to block refused classification. We’ve not suggested, and I repeat, it would go against the fundamental tenet of the Labor party to suggest you would block political content, which is the China line and the Saudi Arabia line. I couldn’t be more clear or simple or straightforward on that. So no one is suggesting – no one – that we would go down that path. We’re looking at technology to see if technology can help replicate what happens in the real world. As I said, I believe in a civil society. It is possible to support a blacklist and support free speech, just as it is possible to argue against a black list and not be a child paedophile. So…’

Let’s hope the current Australian government will not go back on its words. Websites such as wikileaks is one way of protecting whistleblowers and keeping powerful corporations and governments accountable.


2 Responses

  1. Well our German friends have a rather unfortunate history of censorship and it’s a shame to see that they’ve apparently learned so little from their past mistakes.

    At least, being an internet domain, it can’t be burned (which was their past modus operandi) so I guess the whole procedure is a lot less visible.


    Something like that should be accompanied by flaming torches and skin-headed youth in brown shirts singing the Horst Wessel song.

    What troubles me, if the wikileaks article is correct about Auistralia also considering such a move, is that we too have apparently learned little from the Germans’ past conduct, even though it was conduct our forbears thought abhorrent only a generation or two ago.

  2. Not sure where this article fits, but given this thread is about communications broadly defined, I suspect it’s appropriate. A great historical insight.


    Here’s a teaser.

    THIS HISTORY does not offer neat lessons for Kevin Rudd’s proposed public private communications partnership, it does provide some clues about how such an arrangement might succeed, stretch and strain. Indeed, there are striking similarities between the political and industrial origins of the two schemes – a political, technical and fiscal opportunity, a prime minister with freshly endorsed power, a perception of complacency or crisis in Australia’s uptake of a new technology with big economic and social implications and dissatisfaction about the process used to award a large public subsidy to fix the problem

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