In the documentary Mad Max: Fury Road, we learned how Australia is controlled by a psychotic strongman who believes in traditional gender roles, strict limits on immigration, and social control through imposed scarcity. This is why Tony Abbott, current Prime Minister of Australia, announced his new Internet censorship plan by warning Aussies, "Do not, my friends, become addicted to the Web."
The law, which was enjoyed bipartisan support from Australia's two biggest parties, the Liberals and Labour, allows companies to get court orders to block entire websites in Australia if the site's "primary purpose" is infringement. The statute does not define "primary purpose," and has effectively no checks or balances. It can also be defeated by any child with a VPN.
Australia is often the last- and least-served by big studios and labels in their release schedules, with entertainment products arriving there long after the rest of the world has seen and discussed them online. Experiments in same-day releases to Australia and New Zealand have shown the strategy to be hugely effective at reducing copyright infringement (unlike censorship, which does bugger all, as Tank Girl likes to say).
The bill passed easily in both houses thanks to bipartisan support from the Liberal and Labor parties: only the Australian Greens put up any fight against it. Bernard Keane explains in an article on Crikey that the main argument for the new law—that it would save Australian jobs—is completely bogus. Claims that film piracy was costing 6100 jobs every year don't stand up to scrutiny: "If piracy were going to destroy 6000 jobs in the arts sector every year, why is employment in the specific sub-sector that according to the copyright industry is the one directly affected by piracy now 31,000, compared to 24,000 in 2011?" Keane asks.
As well as being based on a false premise, the new law will also be ineffectual, since Australians can simply use to web proxies and VPNs to circumvent any blocks that are imposed. This has raised the fear that the courts will go on to apply the new law to VPN providers, although Australia's Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has insisted this won't happen. According to TorrentFreak, last week Turnbull said: "VPNs have a wide range of legitimate purposes, not least of which is the preservation of privacy—something which every citizen is entitled to secure for themselves—and [VPN providers] have no oversight, control or influence over their customers' activities." If Turnbull sticks to that view, it is likely that Australians will turn increasingly to VPNs to nullify the new law.
Australia passes controversial anti-piracy web censorship law [Glyn Moody/Ars Technica]