New copyright legislation could be used to block virtual private networks (VPNs) used by many thousands of Australians to access overseas content online.
Consumer advocacy group Choice said the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2015, if passed, would allow copyright owners to apply for a Federal Court order requiring ISPs to block overseas sites if they were infringing copyright or facilitating the infringement of copyright.
While the bill is designed to target BitTorrent sites, such as the Pirate Bay, there are concerns other online services including VPNs and digital storage lockers could fall victim.
Choice campaigns manager Erin Turner says at least 684,000 Australian households currently employ VPNs to bypass geoblocks and access overseas content at globally competitive prices.
Turner questioned the effectiveness of the legislation when BitTorrent sites can simply close down and operate from a different Internet location.
“What the bill will be used for is forcing people into a Foxtel subscription, not stopping piracy,” she said.