WTF, mate?

20 10 2008

This story was found by way of Ars Technica:

Australians may not be able to opt out of the government’s Internet filtering initiative like they were originally led to believe. Details have begun to come out about Australia’s Cyber-Safety Plan, which aims to block “illegal” content from being accessed within the country, as well as pornographic material inappropriate for children. Right now, the system is in the testing stages, but network engineers are now saying that there’s no way to opt out entirely from content filtering.

Apparently, the Australian government has taken it upon themselves to filter out what they deem to be “illegal” content. This is exactly what the Chinese government is doing with its Great Firewall. The reasons for doing it and the methods they use may be different, but the end goal is still the same. There has already been some backlash amongst Australian internet users. Despite these protests, the Australian government is still pushing forward. Despite their best efforts, though, this may not have the desired impact, as the internet is impossible to regulate.

What I find most troubling about this is the fact that it could spread. With things like Homeland Security and the USA PATRIOT ACT gradually whittling down our freedoms in the United States, how can we be sure that our freedom and privacy on the web will be preserved. The web is the most egalitarian media outlet ever created and laws like this just damage it. One of the web’s greatest strength’s is that it is unfilitered. Anyone can post anything and anyone can get anything (for the most part). To have that kind of freedom and openness diminished by governmental regulation and censorship is sad and frightening.

I can understand the desire to censor things like child pornography. In fact, I am okay with blocking things like that. The web can be used for lots of bad things. However, I feel that the web is largely used for positive purposes. Also, whenever a government is given a certain power, it is rarely taken away from it. This also gives the Australian government enormous power to control what its citizens see on the web. Regardless of what the says the government can and cannot do, there will probably be individuals who take advantage of that power for their own ends.

I hope public outcry will kill this government action in Australia and prevent it here in the United States. The strength and appeal of the internet lies in its freedom. It is my contention that there should be at least one media outlet that is completely free of censorship and regulation. I would urge Australians to speak out and for Australian ISPs to grow spines and stand up to this. Sorry, Australia. I hope you feel better soon.

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3 responses

20 10 2008
pj

When you invite the socialists in they take over the entire party. Either throw the bums out in the next election or bend over and kiss it good bye. While you’re at it pray for your cousins in the USA. We may find ourselves in the same leaky socialist boat trying to row fast enough to escape the tsunami of rights stripping regulations.

20 10 2008
patrick42h

@pj I don’t know about “socialists.” I think this whole thing started out as an innocent attempt to filter out really bad things like child porn. Then it got hijacked by the Australian version of the neocons to whittle down the rights they think are detrimental to national security. That sounds a lot like American politics, actually. I know very little about Australian politics compared to what I know about American politics.

As for socialism, I see it more as an economic ideology where the wealth is democratically redistributed. I don’t see it so much as a motivator for a government to filter the internet or step on the toes of civil rights.

22 10 2008
pj

Socialism, like Islam, is both a political and economic ideology. That was one of Marx’s key theoretical points, that government and economy must be fused into a single ideology to uniting the proletariat, eliminating the bourgeoisie and establishing a dictatorship of the proletariat. “From each according to his means (ability to pay) and to each according to his needs.” In the end there is little genuine democracy in any socialist state.

As for the filtering, it probably did start as an effort to censor kiddie porn. Regardless of who started the process, ultimately freedom of expression is curtailed. Censorship is not the answer. Criminalizing kiddie porn and successfully prosecuting purveyors and consumers of kiddie porn is the answer. But, even with good law and prosecutions, there are those who would prostitute the process to encompass political repression or protect reprehensible expression such as kiddie porn. That is the real danger, that any political party would have the authority to censor its rivals and opponents. Historically, the left is as, if not more, guilty of repressing political expression than the right.

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