Australia’s Censorship Creep Expands Again: Targets “Violent Crime”

Australia’s censorship creep is continuing to expand. This time, lawmakers are wanting to block “violent crime”.

Australia is proving once again that once censorship takes hold, there is no end in sight on what can be added to the list of things to block. The whole saga started in 2014 when file-sharing websites were targeted for censorship. Since then, the floodgates have been opened.

It started when lobbyists successfully pushed for amendments to include sites that have a “primary effect” of piracy. The new broad definition can net just about any website. While rightfully sharply criticized, the expanded definition was ultimately passed anyway despite a lack of evidence.

From there, lobbyists then got Australia to block fan-sub sites even though it’s not really piracy at that point. The censorship continued with the addition of online conversion websites in spite of the legal uses such sites have.

After that, competing overseas retailers wound up being next allegedly because overseas retailers don’t pay taxes. Whether or not that wild accusation was ever true or not remains up in the air.

Now, it seems that censorship powers are being expanded again. Now, Australia is targeting “violent” content. From ITNews:

The government has been asked to formalise content blocking by Australian internet providers during “online crisis events” with new laws.

The proposed new site blocking powers, however, would apply to what is being termed “terrorist and extreme violent material” – which is defined separately.

This covers “audio, visual or audio-visual material that depicts an actual terrorist act targeting civilians (as opposed to animated or fictionalised); depicts actual (as opposed to animated or fictionalised) violent crime; or promotes, advocates, encourages or instructs a terrorist, terrorist group or terrorist act, or a person to commit actual (as opposed to animated or fictionalised) violent crime.”

Violent crime is not limited to “murder; attempted murder; torture; rape; and violent kidnapping”.

(emphasis us)

As Australia continues to expand the definitions, the country is inadvertently showing precisely why censorship laws are problematic. There is really no end of what content can be censored. The boundaries will continue to be pushed and more and more content will be added. Chances are, this isn’t the end of where definitions expand. As a result, free speech in Australia will continue to suffer.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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