The debate over internet censorship has well and truly moved to the global centre stage, with the US last week drawing a line in the sand and declaring itself the champion of open access. Coming in the wake of Chinese cyber attacks against Google and dozens of other US companies, the new approach was outlined last week in a speech by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who declared the free access to information online as critical a human right as the freedom of assembly or the right to publish.

Although barely mentioning China, the speech has roused considerable ire  in Beijing. It's not just China that is experimenting with internet censorship, however. This speech couldn't have come at a worse time for the Rudd government, with its mandatory filtering policy set to come before Parliament early this year. Any government would want to be seen on the side of freedom and democracy, but elevating uncensored internet access to a fundamental right is clearly problematic in the present circumstances.