Some time ago, I had a little protest on my sidebar about internet censorship. Senator Stephen Conroy's consultation paper on mandating the filtering of internet sites by Australian internet service providers suggests that our nation could soon have the most restrictive internet regime in the Western world. A 'limited' trial of internet censorship of pornographic and risque sites has been underway for some months and the good Senator said on telly the other night that it was 100% successful. Bloody rubbish . . He's such a fuckwit! The sample was small, comprised volunteers who 'opted in' and only two ISP providers accepted the offer to trial this idiocy. This is the same Senator who proposes protecting children by installing speed humps every 100 metres on Australian freeways. Fucktard.
The idea is to incorporate a list of local and overseas-hosted child sexual abuse material, filter it at ISP level and prevent younglings or sexual predators from accessing. The problem is that it also has the potential to filter innocent sites with unfortunate names or keywords in their Search Engine Optimisation.
There appears to be a commitment to elevate the Refused Classification category to form the backbone of the new "RC content list". This will include material that deals with "sexual violence, detailed instruction in crime, violence or drug use and/or material that advocates the doing of a terrorist act", as well as other aspects of the RC regime, far beyond the relatively restricted prohibitions of "child sexual abuse imagery [and] bestiality". OK I know this sounds disgusting and no child should be exposed to sites like this. No adult frankly. The fact that they exist is abhorrent but I do not want the Australian Government banning me because I post something that might be mistaken for an abusive site any more than I want them to choose what I should and should not access via any media.
A significant concern is that in mandating a regulatory regime at odds with most of the Western world. Australia will identify itself with, and give tacit encouragement to, a range of undemocratic political regimes dubbed "enemies of the internet" by Reporters Without Borders (RWB). The list of a dozen or so countries includes Burma, China, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam. Indeed, in even considering the embracing of such a mandatory regime, RWB have placed Australia on a watch list as being "under surveillance" – company the nation keeps with Bahrain, Eritrea, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates, Yemen and Zimbabwe.
Australian research has consistently indicated that a majority of parents choose to negotiate with their children around their access to the internet. They also talk with their children about any content that is troubling to them, including everyday concerns such as bullying and online harassment, which will not be touched at all by these deliberations.
It is ironic that at the very point where Australia seeks recognition as a world leader in its vision for a National Broadband Network it may also gain censure as legitimising a range of repressive policies pursued by some of the globe's least accountable governments. Further, given that the filter will categorise and block websites, but not chat rooms, Facebook, Twitter and other social networking where the highly illegal activities of those who peddle images of child sexual abuse or worse still engage in predatory behaviour are likely to continue with little additional inconvenience.
The scheme is opposed by child welfare charities, civil liberty groups and professional bodies - and with good reason.
OK that's a long winded way of saying, Government has no right to impose such censorship without guarantees that the sites censored are indeed pornographic and that without the full consent of the Australian public.
Apologies for intermittent posting and less than frequent visiting. Work is very busy, end of year is nigh, Christmas with the outlaws this weekend and I simply am running out of time. Normal services will resume soon . . have a wonderful weekend folks. Looks like rain down under and boy do we need it!