Philosophy Hurts Your Head

The blog of a cranky Philosophy PhD Student from Newcastle, Australia.

Is Australian Internet Censorship a Barrier to Trade?

Posted by Sam D on November 5, 2008

The answer is: Potentially, yes.
But with whom?
First up there is the European Union.
The European Parliament resolution of 19 February 2008 on the EU’s Strategy to deliver market access for European companies (2007/2185(INI)) specifically adresses this very issue, with the European Parliament calling on the Commission (to the European Parliament) :

“to specifically deal with all restrictions on the provision of Internet and information society services imported by European companies in third countries as part of its external trade policy and to regard all unnecessary limitations on the provision of those services as constituting trade barriers.”

It remains to be seen how much European content would be blocked before it is deemed an “unnecessary limitation”, but I think the potential is there.  On top of there is the objective outlined by the Commission to:

“keep the Internet as an open and censorship-free zone where all the world’s citizens can communicate freely with each other without needing to seek the permission of anyone else, including their governments, in line with internationally recognised fundamental rights.”

Full text here

This was in in an answer to questions regarding the European Parliament commitment to protect ‘cyber dissidents‘. INterestingly enough, the legislation that sets the background for the public hearign leading to the question being asked in the firstplace was this:European Parliament resolution on freedom of expression on the Internet . This resolution says a lot of differnt things, but I particularly like: 

“5.  Calls on the Commission and the Council to draw up a voluntary code of conduct that would put limits on the activities of companies in repressive countries;”

I know it’s voluntary, but wouldn’t it be a pity if European companies had even more limits on what business they could conduct here. In time this may apply to any European companies that contribute to the censorship effort. 

I’m still working on deciphering the Australia-US free trade agreement, to see if it contains anything relevant. I susupect there won’t be, but time will tell. 

There seem to be more arguments against the censorship of the internet everyday. I can only hope that Senator Conroy listens to reason and finds a way out of this mess.

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