Aussies To Block “Protest Websites”

In the name of fighting “cybercrime,” the Courier-Mail reports that Australian Justice Minister Chris Ellison will look at upgrading federal powers to block certain websites. He’s apparently acting at the behest of police ministers who agreed it was “unacceptable [that] websites advocating or facilitating violent protest action be accessible from Australia.”

In the past Indymedia websites have been implicated by Australian politicians for aiding protests. However, Melbourne Indymedia reports that most recently

“The Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) has cleared Melbourne Indymedia and the website saying they are not in breach of government regulations. Despite the government defeat NSW Police Minister Micheal Costa has claimed that ‘we will be doing everything we can to pursue it internationally.’”

The Melbourne IMC story goes on to say,

“Lucky for net activists they are far more globalised than the derisive anti-globalisation label suggests. Physically shutting down the site would be very difficult given that it is hosted overseas. Politically it would be even more difficult given the huge network Indymedia, and net activism more generally, has developed around the world. Around 200 300,000 people look at Indymedia sites every week. “

I’d agree. It’s a double-edged sword. Being targeted by authorities means that you’re achieving a level of impact and significance, but, of course, being targeted is no fun either. The very global nature of the IMC movement is an enormous asset — even if you just consider the ability for Australian IMC websites to be moved from server to server around the world. All these geeks comimg together and pooling resources is very difficult for one government to block or control.

It does, however, make me wonder what influence the Australian gov’t might have on the Bush administration, if any — especially since the current Aussie regime is pretty right-wing. Although American traditions of free speech make it much more politically difficult to attack web sites so easily, that doesn’t make organizations like Indymedia utterly safe from persecution.

With luck, the Australian gov’t won’t be so foolish as to really crack down on IMC. And if they do, I hope the network can be there for them.






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