Google row with China puts spotlight on censorship

Google’s possible pull-out from China over censorship issues has forced the issue of censorship locally, according to an Australian internet rights group.

Electronic Frontiers Australia spokesperson Geordie Guy said they applaud the move by Google to exit China after Chinese spies tried to hack into the internet search engine’s accounts.

“We’re certainly happy and supportive that technology companies like Google are asserting that this is a bad idea globally,” he said.

Guy drew parallels between Google’s move and Australia’s proposed plan to block parts of the internet, claiming Australia’s proposed internet filtering plan resembles China’s original censorship regime which blocked banned content at the internet service provider.

“We’re concerned that Australia is following the sorts of precedents set down by countries like China and Iran that have maintained internet censorship,” he said.

However, a spokesman for Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said the nature of China’s censorship and plans to block Refused Classification, or banned sites, “are vastly different concepts”.

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