Thursday, December 18, 2008

Internet filter in Australia

The Australian government, in an effort to emulate the liberty and freedom held in such democracies as China and Saudi Arabia, is hell-bent on introducing a country-wide web filter.

That the filter is easily stepped around (proxy servers, anyone) is beside the point: The ALP needs the support of the Christian Fascist, sorry Family First party in the Senate, and this was their thirty pieces of silver. Australia will go from having a less-than-world-class internet access to having .. a less than third-world internet access.

Arguments against the filter are coming from all sides of politics, and even the geeks (such as myself) are up in arms. Do you realise what this will mean to our ping times? Well, probably nothing, but still. It will slow down internet access for everything and it won't prevent the thing it is there for. And... noone knows what is to be on the "list". If the Christian Fascists can get this in place, what is next: "We want sites that educate about contraception on the list. And gun control. And abortion. And feminists. And teh gay. Especially Teh Gay!!! And witches. That new Harry Potter site, ban it!!!"

Arguments for the filter look like this:

Chief executive of child protection group Child Wise, Bernadette McMenamin, said most of the criticisms levelled at the internet filter scheme were founded on misinformation.

"It's disturbing that people are getting hysterical about all the misinformation that is being spread about the internet filter," Ms McMenamin said.

"Instead of hearing hysteria from the minority we need to hear from the Government and exactly what it intends to ban."

Ms McMenamin was equally critical of the past weekend's protests and the DLC's plans for future action.

"Let the 300 people march on Canberra because it looks pathetic," he said. "It looks pathetic and shameful because most of these people are not fully aware of the facts and secondly, those who are aware are, in effect, advocating child pornography."

* People protesting over a badly conceived invasion of privacy and infringement of rights equals a hysterical minority.
* You should never listen to a minority, the government is always right
* People who complain about censorship want child porn. Won't nobody think of the children.

Ms McMenamin, this is a truly poor argument. Casting aspertions that the protestors are a bunch of hysterics is hilarious given who is supporting this abomination. If anyone is not fully aware of the facts, it is you. Every group involved in the coalition (the Digital Liberty Coalition, who staged protests against the filter) has put out statements supporting the protection of children, but all of them have pointed out that this is not the cure. This isn't like pulling out your own eyes to stop you from seeing what might offend you, this is pulling out everyone else's eyes too.

And they wonder why we want a Bill of Rights.


Luke said...

Thanks for your thoughts on this. It really is a controversial issue. Brings up a lot of good questions. As an American, I love knowing I have a bill of rights.

I am running a survey about this issue on my blog:

marty said...

Thanks for the comment, Luke, however you link to a site for "sexual purity", which you believe is the will of god. Interesting opinion, however I'm an atheist, so please pardon me if I think you are a natural ally of the "family first" party who are trying to instigate this broad invasion of privacy in Australia. Not only that, you make software that compiles a list of where you go, and sends it to other people so you know they will know where you have been. Hopefully no one is being coerced into running this software by an abusive partner.