Google brands Australian web filtering 'heavy-handed'

Google believes the scope of content to be filtered is too wide

Google has branded the Australian Government's web-filtering scheme "heavy-handed."

Australia is planning on introducing filters to ISPs that will prevent web users in the country from accessing sites with criminal content.

As we reported yesterday, the move follows a lengthy seven-month trial of the new filter technology that found it to be 100 per cent effective.

Iarla Flynn, Head of Policy at Google Australia, says in a blog post that "moving to a mandatory ISP filtering regime with a scope that goes well beyond such material is heavy handed and can raise genuine questions about restrictions on access to information."

"Our primary concern is that the scope of content to be filtered is too wide," states Google's Flynn. "We have a bias in favour of people's right to free expression."

While we recognise that protecting the free exchange of ideas and information cannot be without some limits, we believe that more information generally means more choice, more freedom and ultimately more power for the individual."

An independent classification group will decide on which sites would be banned, and they'd act in response to complaints from the public. The new law will go to the Australian parliament next August. It's estimated that it will take a year to be fully implemented.

But Google believes some filtering is acceptable. "Some limits, like child pornography, are obvious. No Australian wants that to be available – and we agree."

"Google, like many other Internet companies, has a global, all-product ban against child sexual abuse material and we filter out this content from our search results," says Flynn.


Dan (Twitter, Google+) is TechRadar's Former Deputy Editor and is now in charge at our sister site Covering all things computing, internet and mobile he's a seasoned regular at major tech shows such as CES, IFA and Mobile World Congress. Dan has also been a tech expert for many outlets including BBC Radio 4, 5Live and the World Service, The Sun and ITV News.