Australia and the question of Internet Control

AUTHOR
Matthew J. Warren and Shona Leitch

ABSTRACT

Introduction

Australia as a part of the Global Information Society will have to deal with a number of ethical issues in relation to the Internet; particularly, the distribution of illegal material and the impact of Web 2.0 on Australian society. In the Oceania region of the world there are 20.8 million Internet users, which represents 60% of the regions population (InternetWorld, 2009), this identifies the strong impact of the Internet in Australia.

Historically the initial focus of the Internet was the distribution of information in a static manner, but over time and through the development of technology the Internet has now developed into Web 2.0. The Web is no longer a collection of static pages of HTML that describe something in the world; increasingly, the Web is the world. Everything and everyone in the world casts an “information shadow,” an aura of data which, when captured and processed intelligently, offers extraordinary opportunity and mindbending implications (O’Reiley and Battelle, 2009).

In recent years the emergence of Web 2.0 and related internet sites such as Facebook have had a major impact upon the Internet in recent years. One of the interesting aspects of Facebook is the use of third party applications and the interactions that this allows. This means that individual Facebook pages now act as a web page, blog, instant messenger, email system and the use of third party applications allows for real time functionality (DiMicco and Millen, 2007; Shuen, 2008).

Australia Government Strategies

One of the proposals put forward by the Australian Federal Government to deal with the concerns of the Internet is the introduction of mandatory Internet filtering. The aim is that Internet service providers will run the mandatory Internet filtering system on behalf of the Federal Government. The overall aim being to remove access to Australians to information that is considered illegal in an Australian content.

As part of the process, in 2010 the Australian Federal Government via the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy sought public views regarding dealing with illegal content via the Internet. This paper will analyse the public feedback that was obtained and determine current trends that exist within that data.

Structure of the paper

The structure of the paper will be:

1) A discussion of how Australia is dealing with the issues posed by the Internet and the associated new technologies;

2) The paper will discuss the strategies developed by the Australian Federal Government and in particular discuss the proposed mandatory Internet filtering;

3) An analysis of the public findings submitted to the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy will be presented. The submission will be analysed and data trends will be discussed within the paper in particular the issues raised (for and against) in regards to mandatory Internet filtering.

4) An assessment of the next stage of the Federal Government proposals and the impact that it could have on Australia.

5) The paper will conclude by comparing Australian Government initiatives with initiatives from other countries around the world.

REFERENCES

DiMicco, J. M. and Millen, D. R. (2007) Identity management: Multiple presentations of self in Facebook. Proceedings of the 2007 International ACM conference on Supporting group work, Florida, USA.

InternetWorld (2009) Global Internet Statistics, URL: http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm, Accessed 25th September, 2009.

Shuen, A. (2008) Web 2.0: a strategy guide. O’Reilly Media, Inc.

O’Reiley and Battelle (2009) Web Squared: Web 2.0 Five Years On, Proceedings of Web 2.0 Summit, San Francisco, USA.

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