Say No! Too Many Laws Blog
We are being over governed by politicians interested in self preservation not our interests.

Help Stop the Tyranny of Censorship

The Australian Government, and in particular, Minister Stephen Conroy have announced they intend to proceed with the introduction of a mandatory ISP Internet Filter. The intent of the legislation is to provide a mechanism that will restrict the distribution of currently Restricted Content (RC) along with other inappropriate and potentially inappropriate content on the internet.

Whilst there is much debate on the effectiveness of the proposed filter and the effect it will have on Australia’s very poor bandwidth speed, the core issue is

“Do we want Australia to introduce Mandatory Censorship”

Thousands of migrants fled regimes that promote censorship and decided to call Australia home. One of the main reasons for choosing Australia is that we are seen as a free country that values human rights and civil liberties.

Our forefathers fought and died in World Wars to protect us from Fascism and give us the right to make free choices. This freedom includes the right to associate, the right to free speech, the right to free press and the right for us to peacefully protest, something that can’t be done in certain countries without fear or reprisal.

The problem  with the proposed legislation is that Minister Conroy is using propaganda to focus on issues he knows are close to our hearts. The minister says they are merely stopping content on the internet that is not available elsewhere, and the aim of the filter is wholly based on blocking sites involving Child Pornography, Promoting Drug use, Terrorism, Violent and Degrading activities and Perverse Sexual Festishes to name a few. By focusing on these issues the Minister knows it would be very hard for any fair minded person to say we don’t need to control them.

If the solution was so simple, then perhaps mandatory censorship would be worth the loss of mass, free information the internet currently provides, and if we could simply stop these horrid activities without affecting speeds too much then why not?. However Minister Conroy fails to mention that in fact, the proposed filter will  not cover Peer to Peer networks and they cannot guarantee that only the above will be filtered, further who decides what is considered a perverted fetish nowadays.

Now  I can honestly say that in over 20 years of internet surfing, i have never been  inadvertently diverted to a site promoting child porn or terrorism, in the early days porn, certainly, casinos, yes, but never anything that abhorrent that stopped me simply closing the window. Over the years filters have now made this a rare event and generally now days what I want I get.

Peer to Peer however is a very different situation, no filters, no restrictions, no history of content,  you could be downloading Lassie or a kids cartoon and end up with something totally different, what can you do to help stop these files?, not much really, there is no web address, no contact details, only a user name to try and track.                                                                        .

Now, if i was a criminal and i wanted to cohort with other people of the same persuasion, Peer to Peer would surely be the best way to avoid detection.  Therefore wouldn’t it be far better to develop a filter that includes Peer to Peer as well.

Interestingly the Minister has not included Peer to Peer in his proposed filter, rather saying that technology is always evolving and the proposed filter may be developed accordingly. Peer to Peer filtering was initially  mentioned in the terms of reference for the trial recently conducted, obviously due to the non inclusion one must therefore assume that the current proposed filter does not work effectively with Peer to Peer.

So there is the crux of the problem, the Government is saying we want to stop these horrible, potentially threatening things and yet the main method of indulging in these criminal activities will continue on as nothing has changed.

The simple solution to stopping unwanted content would be to develop an “opt in” filter based on age groups and personal values. Couple this with providing education, parental support and large resources to law enforcement. This would leave the population to make its own choices on what material to access and distribute. Most of us will continue as we do today, going about our business using the internet as a valuable information tool.

Surely a Minister with a team of highly skilled people around him can see this problem, so if they were serious about reducing these activities they would go back and get the concept right. So therefore one may imply that maybe the Government is more interested in controlling information through mainstream filtering than it is reducing illegal activities on peer to peer networks.

This is where it is easy to get cynical, what happens in the future?, Exactly what does potentially inappropriate mean?, Why cant we see the list of blocked sites?, Why is there no avenue for judicial review proposed?.

Now it is easy to say that these worries are nothing more than paranoia and that our parliamentary systems has checks and balances to keep governments from over stepping the mark. The trouble with this reasoning is we never know what tomorrow brings, 20 years ago you would have been laughed at if you suggested that a person could be detained for 14 days without charge for terrorism activities in Australia.

What’s to say a government that has a strong majority in both houses of parliament won’t change the scope of the filter in future generations to suit their needs?. Could a government influence an election by restricting adverse press on issues of national security for instance?.

The final question therefore must be why would the Rudd Government risk our countries strong reputation for freedom on such a proposal?, i believe it is due to the strong influence the Australian Christian Lobby has along with the resources of the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft. These groups have a vested interest in controlling content in mainstream media.

It is interesting to note that no other democracy has a mandatory ISP filter and we will be joining the likes of Iran and China  in controlling internet content. There have been reports out of Tunisia that since internet censorship even reporting on simple everyday issues like sport has become very difficult.

As an analogy If the government took the same action on motor vehicle crashes that kill thousands of Australians every year, each car sold in Australia would be fitted with a 100 kmh speed governor and an interlock breath analyser.  This is obviously a silly proposition and therefore we are left to make a choice and suffer the consequences if we make the wrong choice through pecuniary punishment, exactly the same as if you currently distribute Restricted Content in Australia now.

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One Response to “Help Stop the Tyranny of Censorship”

  1. […] Help Stop the Tyranny of Censorship (2 Jan 2010) Why the government should not be censoring the Internet. And why the money would be better spent on parent education and police to enforce existing laws. Share and Enjoy: […]

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