Internet Filtering Law Dies in Australian Senate

Bob Preston
SYDNEY — An independent senator in Australia's national legislative body has aligned himself to cast a deciding vote against an Internet filter designed to kill online gambling but criticized for being too blunt of an instrument.

Senator Nick Xenophon of the Australian parliament had previously supported the filter, which was aimed exclusively at online gambling sites, but he revealed this week that he has reservation.

"The more evidence that's come out, the more questions there are on this," he said.

Those questions stem from the opinions of local tech experts, who said that the filter would, if enabled, block non-gambling sites and slow down the rest of the Internet for Australian residents. On top of that, experts said that hackers could easily circumvent the filter, which has yet to be tested through any of the nation's three main Internet service providers.

But despite all that, Australian Communications Minister Stephen Conroy wanted to go forward with the filter, which he originally envisioned as a way to stop child porn. After that, his list of targets grew to include online gambling, as well as a host of legal adult sites that depict "drug use, crime, sex, cruelty, violence or "revolting and abhorrent phenomena" that "offend against the standards of morality."