Australia Ponders Internet Filtering System

Australian Communications Minister Stephen Conroy

The Australian government has announced it plans to introduce legislation nest year to mandate Internet filtering software be used to protect Australians from obscene material, criminal enterprises, and other harmful material on the Internet—despite claims there’s no way the filter can be completely successful, and will likely lead to censorship, block legitimate material, and curtail speech. If implemented, the move would likely make give Australia a new distinction among the world’s democracies: harshest Internet regulator.

The move isn’t the first time Australian politicians have looked at mandatory Internet filtering: in 2008 the Australian Labor Party put forward an Internet filtering policy proposal, although it garnered little support.

Australian Communication Minister Stephen Conroy said in a statement that the filter was among a set of new measures aiming to stop the distribution of child pornography, materials promoting bestiality and sexual violence, as well as information on illegal activity such as the manufacture and distribution of illegal drugs and how to commit crimes. Material of this nature is already illegal on Australian Web sites, but the country has no capability to prevent it from being published on servers in other countries. Conroy also claims the government would be transparent in how it maintains its list of blocked sites.

“The Government has always maintained there is no silver bullet solution to cyber-safety,” Conroy said. “That is why we have established a comprehensive range of cyber-safety measures, including funding for 91 additional online Australian Federal Police officers and education.”

Critics say there’s no way for such a filter to be effective, and raises the of abuse such as government officials incorrectly or maliciously blocking and censoring material. The filtering software apparently will only over Web-based material, meaning that a good deal of the traffic in banned and illegal material that already takes place via peer-to-peer networking, instant messaging, and other mechanisms won’t be covered by the filter.

The Australian government recently conducted a pilot test in which it claims participating ISPs were able to successfully able to block access to more than 1,300 blacklisted Web sites without significantly impacting end-user performance.

Computing

It took Dell years to fix 1 problem on its best laptop. Here’s how it did it

The new Dell XPS 13 moves the webcam from the below the screen to the top, finally vanquishing the one obstacle facing thin, sleek laptop displays. We have the exclusive story on how it was done.
Home Theater

Looking to cut cable? Here’s everything you need to know about Pluto TV

Pluto TV offers plenty of entertainment in a fashion similar to live internet TV services, only at no cost — you don’t even need to register. Too good to be true? Here’s everything you need to know.
Computing

Worried about your online privacy? We tested the best VPN services

Browsing the web can be less secure than most users would hope. If that concerns you, a virtual private network — aka a VPN — is a decent solution. Check out a few of the best VPN services on the market.
Gaming

Fortnite V-Bucks being used by criminals for money laundering on dark web

Criminals are using Fortnite's V-Bucks for money laundering schemes on the dark web. Epic Games, apparently, is not doing enough to prevent the game from being used for the illegal activity.
Business

Apple banned from distributing some iPhone models in Germany

Apple is following the FTC's lead and has sued Qualcomm for a massive $1 billion in the U.S., $145 million in China, and also in the U.K., claiming the company charged onerous royalties for its patented tech.
Computing

Breeze through security with these checkpoint-friendly laptop bags

Getting through airport security is a drag, but your laptop bag shouldn’t be. Thankfully, these checkpoint-friendly laptop bags will get you and your gear to your destination with ease.
Computing

‘Flexgate’ is the latest controversy plaguing some MacBook Pro owners

iFixit recently uncovered a new "Flexgate" issue with MacBook Pros after some consumers reported a "stage light" effect, where the backlighting on the device would fail and cause the bottom of the display to become slightly distorted.
Computing

Ditch the backdrop from your photos with these handy tools

Need to know how to remove the background from an image? Here's how, whether you prefer to use a premium program like Photoshop or one of the many web-based alternatives currently in existence.
Computing

Think someone's leeching off your Wi-Fi connection? Here's how to find out

It's important to find out immediately if anyone is stealing your bandwidth. Here's how to tell if someone is stealing your Wi-Fi using a few simple tools, along with some suggestions on improving security.
Computing

Open RAR files with the greatest of ease using these awesome applications

Few things are more bothersome than not being able to open a file when you need it most. Check out our quick guide about how to open RAR files in Windows and MacOS. We will walk you through the process, step by step.
Web

Google Chrome’s latest decision could prevent most ad-blockers from functioning

Google Chrome's newest change is cited as a step forward for speed and security, but could profoundly alter how the majority of ad-blocking extensions operate. The move potentially gives Google more control over which ads can be blocked.
Computing

Samsung permits peek at an eye-popping, 15-inch 4K OLED laptop display

Samsung is now preparing for the new OLED laptop trend and is providing a look at an eye-popping 15.6-inch 4K OLED panel that is expected to power larger premium laptops in the new year.
Music

Here's our head-to-head comparison of Pandora and Spotify

Which music streaming platform is best for you? We pit Spotify versus Pandora, two mighty streaming services with on-demand music and massive catalogs, comparing every facet of the two services to help you decide which is best.
Computing

Latest ransomware targets gamers with a malicious sophistication

The latest piece of ransomware, Anatova, has been discovered by the security team at McAfee. Employing a smart tactic to confuse users and able to clean its tracks as it evolves, this is one tough piece of ransomware.