Australia – Enemy of the Internet


Did you realise, that Australia is under surveillance for violating online freedoms, as an ‘enemy of the internet’?

Me neither. Apparently, Australia has been put on a watch list of under surveillance because of the censorship scheme. Other countries joining us include Russia, Egypt, South Korea, and Sri Lanka.

Australia has been pencilled onto the list because of the Federal Government’s unwillingness to officially remove the national censorship scheme even though it has been hugely unpopular. The scope of what it called ‘classified criteria’ has become wider and the filtering is not transparent according to media reports. Telstra, Optus and CyperOne are already blocking the Interpol ‘worst of’ list.

Bahrain and Belarus have already been added to this year’s official ‘Enemies of the Internet’ list as they drastically filter and monitor content. Countries previously (and remaining) listed include China, Cuba, Burma, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam and Syria. Interestingly enough, Libya and Venezuela  were dropped off the list, with India and Kazakhstan now being added.

It’s interesting to think that new media keeps pushing back the censorship boundaries, and we have social networking and video content to thank for this. The March 2011 report (downloadable here highlights how the internet and social networking are conclusively established as tools for protest, campaigning, and circulating information freely.

Online social networks complicate matters for authoritarian regimes that are trying to suppress unwanted news and information. It was thanks to netizens that Tunisians learned about the street vendor who set himself on fire in Sidi Bouzid and Egyptians learned about Khaled Said, the young netizen who was beaten to death by police outside an Alexandria Internet cafe….the revolution of microblogs and opinion aggregators and the faster dissemination of news and information results, combined with the growing use of mobile phones to livestream video, are all increasing the possibilities of freeing information from its straightjacket.” [Reporters Without Borders]

The easiest way to shut down the communications in this manner is to cut phone towers and internet access in these areas as blocking news sites is no longer sufficient to keep content from entering the digital forum and spreading like wildfire.

In China, the word ‘Jasmine’ and the word ‘ occupy’ followed by any Chinese city, is blocked. In Belarus during demonstrations their social network Vkontakte was blocked. Kazakhstan blocked extremist sites, AND the whole of the LiveJournal blog system. Thailand has censored more content online in the last few months than the last 3 years. South Korea increased it’s level of blocked sites to stop North Korean propaganda. Tajijistan has gone the whole hog, blocking Facebook and all news websites.

I don’t think Australia is in danger of becoming quite in the same bracket as this, but is interesting that we are taking precautions to control viewable content to some degree. I don’t think I actually mind at this level. However, to have my internet and phone towers cut to limit communication – well, yes, I have plenty of issues with that. Even slowing the internet connection speed – a subtle way to make information difficult to send, particularly photos and video content – would be a clever way to reduce communication.


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Categories: Beliefs, Morals, Business, Crime, Entertainment, Events, Multiculturalism, People, Politics, Law, Science, Technology


Digital and Comms nerd working in an INGO. PhD researcher (technology / gender / International development / fragile and conflict affected states / South Sudan). Bibliophile. Writer. Musician. Views my own.

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2 Comments on “Australia – Enemy of the Internet”

  1. March 18, 2012 at 2:48 pm #

    Interesting blog. Do enjoy reading it..

  2. March 19, 2012 at 12:21 am #

    This shocking revelation is really only the beginning. You may think it’s unfathomable that a Western, First-World, democratic country can be lumped in with communists and countries governed by religious zealots, but the scary truth is, governments in all Western nations want to control the Internet for their own ulterior agendas. You see it already with SOPA…
    They want to monetize it, tax it, censor it, cripple it, make the resultant world you see and hear through it, align with their message of control. The question isn’t if this will happen, but when and by whom. Because if governments don’t get there first, then giant, private demigods of control like the Rothschilds and the Packers and the Murdochs of this world will.

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