Quickhit: Conroy admires Google China’s censorship, plumps for censored Youtube Oz

The looming prospect of internet censorship in Australia just gets more and more disturbing.

From APC Mag: Now Conroy wants Google to filter YouTube in Australia

In the latest twist over his controversial Web filtering scheme, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has expressed admiration for what he termed as Google’s role in suppressing controversial Web content in countries like China, Thailand, and elsewhere – and confirmed he is trying to use similar filtering to prevent Australians from viewing offensive content via Google-owned YouTube.

Calling the company “probably the world’s leading deep packet filterer, unbeknownst to most people,” Conroy told a Senate Estimates committee that he was discussing the possibility of getting Google to filter refused-classification materials from its YouTube video sharing site. “They have experience in blocking material in other countries at the behest of governments, including China, Thailand and a number of other countries,” he added.

Google, however, is having none of it, denying both Conroy’s claims about deep-packet filtering and suggestions it would voluntarily filter RC content. “We don’t believe the comparisons between how China filters the Internet, and how Australia is looking at it, are relevant,” Google Australia head of policy Iarla Flynn told APCmag.com. […]

In his latest comments, however, Conroy acknowledged that extending an ISP-level content filter to cover YouTube content would have performance implications – which explains why he is hoping Google will voluntarily do the job for him. Google’s has well-known bias in favour of freedom of expression, including its recent ultimatum to the Chinese government, saying that it would no longer filter web results there and would rather pull out of China altogether.

Edited February 11th:

More from Google:

Google Australia’s head of policy, Iarla Flynn, said the company had a bias in favour of freedom of expression in everything it did and Conroy’s comparisons between how Australia and China deal with access to information were not “helpful or relevant”.

Google has recently threatened to pull out of China, partly due to continuing requests for it to censor material.

“YouTube has clear policies about what content is not allowed, for example hate speech and pornography, and we enforce these, but we can’t give any assurances that we would voluntarily remove all Refused Classification content from YouTube,” Flynn said.

“The scope of RC is simply too broad and can raise genuine questions about restrictions on access to information. RC includes the grey realms of material instructing in any crime from [painting] graffiti to politically controversial crimes such as euthanasia, and exposing these topics to public debate is vital for democracy.”

Categories: Politics, technology


6 replies

  1. Hahahaha – Google just made a big announcement about withdrawing from China’s censorship regime, and Conroy thinks they’ll go along with his idea?
    At least he finally seems to have realised that ISP level filtering simply won’t cope with the volume of traffic going through YouTube (and Facebook and probably Flickr too). Now he’s trying a pathetic end-run.
    Wotta maroon.

  2. Oh, Conroy. Do not mess with Youtube or Google. First of all, teenagers with a lot of spare time get very, very upset when you mess with Youtube. Look at what happened with Scientology. That happened because they made them take down a Youtube video.
    And Google are not on the same page with this idea.
    If he tries that, sh*t’ll get real VERY quickly.

  3. I thought Google is withdrawing from China, because of the huge security breach by Chinese hackers, not because Google is unevil.

    • @Restructure!
      The hacker attacks are aimed at Chinese human rights activists though, so it’s not just any old security breach. While Google is being very careful not to accuse the Chinese govt of being behind the hacks, there’s a huge elephant somewhere in that room. So their withdrawal from the Chinese censorship regime is still coming down on the unevil side of the human rights equation.

  4. The cynical interpretation is that Google is withdrawing, because security breaches would risk revealing their Google tech secrets, which would threaten the dominance of their company. I just don’t think Google “has well-known bias in favour of freedom of expression”, although it used to, before it initially agreed to censor results in China.

  5. The cynical interpretation is that Google is withdrawing, because security breaches would risk revealing their Google tech secrets, which would threaten the dominance of their company.
    I don’t think that’s cynical, I think that’s sensible. Everyone’s protective of their intellectual property.
    Off on a tangent, but dear gods I despise anonymous. They’re the most jumped-up, pretentious self-congratulatory movement I’ve seen, and I’m a radical feminist vegan student, so I know of what I speak.

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