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Whistleblowing website Wikileaks has gone offline just hours after publishing what appeared to be a complete list of the websites banned by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).
The list appeared to show all the websites that those living in Australia are prohibited from accessing by the domestic authorities, but the communications minister, Stephen Conroy, moved to say the list was not authentic earlier today.
Conroy said the list contained some common URLs, but that it also contained a number of links his organisation had not investigated or received a complaint about. He also went on to say whoever leaked the information could face criminal prosecution.
Sydney Morning Herald said that doubt has been cast on the federal government's proposed internet censorship regime, after the supposed blacklist leaked online. It quoted opposition communications spokesman Nick Minchin, who said the leak highlighted how such information could surface, despite the planned introduction of an internet content filter prohibiting access to illegal content.
According to Forbes, the scope of Australia's internet censorship has developed far beyond its initial aim to block child pornography and web pages associated with terrorism. Free speech advocates fear it could be used to block legitimate activity.
A report by the Register yesterday said some Wikileaks pages themselves had been added to the growing number of prohibited sites after it published a similar list of websites banned by the Danish government.
Wired also carried a report of the ban, saying ACMA added two Wikileaks pages to its censorship list, which is estimated to hold more than a thousand URLs, and is distributed to Australian ISPs, which are required by law to make filters available to block illegal content. Australian websites that link to the pages, says the Register, face the threat of a A$11,000 (£5,200) fine.
Wikileaks responded by announcing the ban. "The first rule of censorship is that you cannot talk about censorship," it wrote. However, that site seems to have gone offline currently.