Interpol filter scope creep: ASIC ordering unilateral website blocks

The Federal Government has confirmed its financial regulator has started requiring Australian Internet service providers to block websites suspected of providing fraudulent financial opportunities, in a move which appears to also open the door for other government agencies to unilaterally block sites they deem questionable in their own portfolios.

The news came tonight in a statement issued by the office of Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, following a controversial event in April which saw some 1,200 websites wrongfully blocked by several of Australia’s major Internet service providers.

On 12 April, Melbourne publication the Melbourne Times Weekly reported that more than 1,200 websites, including one belonging to independent learning organisation Melbourne Free University, might have been blocked by the Australian Government. At the time, Melbourne Free University was reportedly told by its ISP, Exetel, that the IP address hosting its website had been blocked by Australian authorities. The block lasted from 4 April until 12 April.

Subsequently, the US-based Electronic Frontier Foundation issued a media release linking the issue to the Labor Federal Government’s various Internet filtering initiatives, especially the voluntary filtering scheme currently implemented by a number of major ISPs including Telstra, Optus and Vodafone — via redwolf.newsvine.com

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