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With search-engine giant Google having made the headlines recently for its honorable decision to leave China, home of the largest online population, rather than continue filtering its results at the behest of communist authorities, it would seem only a matter of time before scrutiny fell to other countries, especially democratic ones, contemplating Internet filtering regimes of their own.According to The Punch, the US State Dept has voiced its concerns to the Australian govt about plans there filter the Internet.“The US and Australia are close partners on issues related to cyber matters generally, including national security and economic issues,” it says. “We do not discuss the details of specific diplomatic exchanges, but can say that in the context of that ongoing relationship, we have raised our concerns on this matter with Australian officials.”Australia Broadband Minister Stephen Conroy first proposed an Internet filtering regime as a voluntary effort to “protect children,” but the plan quickly spiraled into an all out attempt by the Australian govt to make it mandatory for ISPs to filter the Internet of all “inappropriate content” and “offensive and illegal material.” It quickly deteriorated from an attempt to somehow safeguard children from things like child pornography to things like legal pornography, gambling, and even P2P traffic, making Australian citizens rightly upset.Conroy even later expanded the list to block Adult R18+ and X18+ web sites, and those depicting drug use, crime, sex, cruelty, violence or ‘revolting and abhorrent phenomena’ that ‘offend against the standards of morality.’ This means video games will be censoredsince it will target sites that host or sell ones that don’t meet the MA15+ standard (suitable for 15yos) being that Australia lacks an R18+ or X18+ classification.The heavily criticized plan also threatens to reduce Internet connection speeds by up to 87% and institute a system of censorship with no oversight.This past January US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton affirmed the US’ commitment to online freedom, telling an audience in Washington DC that “we are urging urging US media companies to take a proactive role in challenging foreign governments’ demands for censorship and surveillance.”“The private sector has a shared responsibility to help safeguard free expression,” she added. “And when their business dealings threaten to undermine this freedom, they need to consider what’s right, not simply what’s a quick profit.”Such as did Google to everyone’s amazement and delight.Of added concern is how the New Zealand govt’s Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) has already managed to push live its controversial Digital Child Exploitation Filtering System. Operated in partnership with the country’s ISPs, the system is intended to focus solely on websites “offering clearly objectionable images of child sexual abuse.”However, it means all traffic will be diverted through govt censors, making it ripe for abuse by copyright holders, religious groups, and others with their own agendas.It too was implemented without “being passed in Parliament in accordance with the normal democratic process.”Responding to all of this, Australia Broadband Minister Stephen Conroy claims to be unaware of any US concerns over his Internet filtering proposal. “Well, I’ve seen those concerns, [but] I haven’t had any direct contact with the US State Department,” he said. “I saw the reports in the morning papers. My department I don’t believe has been directly contacted. They maybe are speaking to the Department of Foreign Affairs — but I was unaware until I saw this morning’s news reports of any approaches at all at this stage.”It is believed the legislation won’t be introduced in Parliament until the next Federal election which is scheduled for April 16th , 2011. If that’s the case, then the Aussie public, and apparently the US State Dept, has plenty of time to make their objections heard.