I know this is going to be an unpopular opinion, but I’m kind of glad that there is some censorship online. I’m glad that censorship exists. Obviously I don’t want people taking it too far, but there are some things that I just don’t want to ever see.
But it’s always about balance. I think that China might have over done it. The Great Firewall is a little frightening a concept for me who can generally just do whatever I can think of when I want to go online. It cuts people off from Facebook, form looking up their own country’s history and both of those are things that are important to me. The Chinese government is using the tools it has to retain it’s power (Zhang, 2006) and to make sure people don’t find things they find offensive.
These guys have taken the complete polar opposite approach to the Australian government which basically say “If you’ve got a problem let us know and we’ll sort it out.” (ACMA, 2013) They rely on complaints made by their populace rather than actively seeking out things that are offensive or outright dangerous.
And I think there’s a healthy balance to be attained here. The Chinese system is quite oppressive (in my opinion). The Australian system means that people can hide the really scary stuff as long as they don’t spread it around too much publicly. There should really be a middle ground, with censors taking a more active role in blocking things deemed universally offensive while keeping their ears open to the complains of people if something went under their radar. I have no idea how the hell to do this. In 2001 CSIRO investigated automated filters and found that they were severely lacking. Maybe that needs to be investigated again, maybe something else could come up. At the moment though, online censorship is about as good as it’s going to get in Australia.
Lena L. Zhang. “Behind the ‘Great Firewall’: Decoding China’s Internet Media Policies from the Inside.” Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 12.3 (2006): 271-291
Australian Communications and Media Authority: Internet. http://www.acma.gov.au/theACMA/About/The-ACMA-story/Regulating