Australia was marked as ‘under surveillance’ owing to the government’s failure to officially scrap its national censorship scheme.
The non-transparency of the country’s filtering scheme and the fact that the government has broadened the scope of its “classified criteria” all added to its inclusion on the list.
Other countries on the watch list include South Korea, Russia, Sri Lanka and Egypt. The list is intended to show nations that are considered a threat to democracy and freedom of information.
Reporters Without Borders wrote on its website: “To bypass the political status quo, members of the Internet Industry Association introduced a voluntary system in July last year, based on Interpol’s blacklist rather than the one compiled by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), the official body responsible for censorship.”
A spokesman for communications minister Stephen Conroy told news.com.au that the government had tabled the Australian Law Reform Commission’s review of the National Classification Scheme.
“The report will be taken into account by the Convergence Review, which is due to submit its own final report to the government by the end of March,” the spokesman said.
However, Australia did not make it onto Reporters Without Borders’ official ‘enemies of the internet’ list, reserved for countries that practice drastic content filtering and monitoring of ‘cyber dissidents’. Countries on this list included China, Cuba, Burma, Saudia Arabia, Vietnam, Syria, Bahrain and Belarus.