The controversy continues regarding Australia's leaked list of blacklisted websites which included, among others, the legal gambling enterprise, Betfair, as well as some online poker portals.
"We didn't know [about the ban]," said Betfair CEO Andrew Twaits. "We've been licensed to operate in Australia for three years and have never received a complaint or any allegation that Betfair locally or globally is not allowed usage by Australians. The global Betfair site is used by Australians every day."
Some 2500 websites were reportedly brandished as "unacceptable for viewing by Aussies". Besides numerous porn websites, there were YouTube links and poker room sites listed as well.
Poker sites on ACMA's blacklist include big names like partypoker.com, fulltiltpoker.com, 888.com, pokerroom.com, pokerstars.com, and mansion.com.
"As many as 400,000 Aussies are playing poker on the Web," an industry spokesperson told Network World, adding the amount gambled could be $US1000 per person every year.
But portal news websites like PokerNews.com were also on the blacklist. It was not immediately known if Gambling911.com was on the list as well.
Even more shocking, a Queensland dental surgery website was also among those blacklisted.
Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, who is pushing for the Web filtering, claimed that porn had been implanted into the dental surgery website by hackers.
"Australians have proven themselves to be very pro active, passionate and rather effective protesters and activists over the decades," said Australia Media Man, Greg Tingle. "Australia is also home many Internet entrepreneurs and self styled publishers."
Tingle added: "Australia is also known for its fearless whistle blowers, likely the most notable being "The Human Headline" Derryn Hinch. Hinch and others have risked (and done) jail to stand up for justice! The Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance, of which I'm a member, have enjoyed some strong successes in protecting the rights of journalists.
"To state the obvious the matter of censorship is of significant relevance and interest to journos and their editors. There's an old expression by a wise man in New York... "News is something, someone, somewhere, doesn't want someone else to know, everything else is PR! Nathan, the Australian government "blacklist" is huge news. It appears that by making websites or whatever "illegal" and "banned" it boosts interest and makes them every more sought after.
"Many industries have thrived in an underground and underworld type environment in the past including some of Australia's (unadvertised) land based casinos, as showcased on Network Nine's 'Underbelly'. Bottom line... Australians do care a rats ass about censorship."
Thus far, Conroy shows no sign of backing down.
Speaking at a Sydney press conference Thursday morning, Conroy said the leaked list would serve only to publicise Web sites that promote terrorism, hate and child porn.
"Does the [leaked blacklist] mean we are going to stop blocking access to the sites? No. People can continue to put up the lists if they are proud to do that," Conroy said.
"It is completely untrue that the leaked blacklist contains political content. This is a list which contains sites that promote incest, rape, child pornography and child abuse.
"If people think [leaking the list] is a victory for free speech, to make available that sort of information, they have a perverse sense of free speech. You can oppose the filter and not be a supporter of child pornography, but equally you can support the filters and still be supporter of free speech. (Credit: Gambling911)
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