To protest a planned Internet filter in Australia, Australian websites and users are being encouraged this week to turn themselves black.

"The Federal Government wants to pass laws to force internet service providers to block banned material hosted on overseas servers," explained one Australian media source. "Communications Minister Stephen Conroy says he intends to introduce the legislation in the first half of 2010."

The protest, known as the Great Australian Internet Blackout, says the measure wouldn't protect children or stop the flow of illegal content, would increase costs, and would put Australia on par with countries such as China and Iran for having restrictive Internet policies.

Users are being encouraged to block out their profile pictures, as well as their websites. Instructions on how to do that are given on the blackout site. In addition, people are urged to write their members of parliament. There is also a Facebook group with almost 5,000 members.

The group hopes to have 500 websites participate.