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Australian philosopher, literary critic, and professional writer. Author of FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND THE SECULAR STATE.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Great Firewall of Australia - express your anger now

Even mainstream child welfare groups are now coming out against the federal government's proposed Great Firewall of Australia.

This misguided initiative must be opposed with all our vigour. Leave aside the growing consensus that it is unlikely to have any beneficial effects in protecting children from genuine dangers, and is therefore useless (but horribly expensive) legislation. Leave aside that this useless legislation may cause a dramatic further decline in the speed of the internet in Australia. Important as those points may be, the essential point is that such legislation would hand the government a power that should never be entrusted to it. Once it starts providing a clean feed that cuts out some unspecified range of ... well, I assume the appropriate word is "dirty" ... content, who defines what is "clean" and "dirty" in the future? I realise, of course, that there would be an ability for individuals to opt out of the clean feed, but there is a second tier of restrictions proposed that you won't be able to opt out of, one that compulsorily excludes a harder core of material (essentially this is supposed to be about child pornography).

Despite the fondness that Senator Conroy has shown for smearing every critic or opponent as a friend of child pornographers, this is not the real concern. Once you provide for massive, technologically-enabled suppression of websites on secret grounds, you give the government and its agencies a power that could be exploited, even in the relatively short term, by moral panic merchants of all kinds (for example, it's easy to imagine the suppression of sites that discuss, advocate, or advise upon such things as euthanasia). We already have wingnuts in the Senate wanting to block gambling sites and hard-core porn sites that don't include child pornography. In the longer term ... are we really going to trust the diverse and unknown governments of the future with this kind of power to control what we can and cannot view on the internet?

The only way to respond to such a proposal is to oppose it every single step of the way - every bloody millimetre - as forthrightly as possible, and starting at the earliest possible time. Don't leave it until it's too late, as so often happens with oppressive or ill-advised laws. Once the Great Firewall of Australia has been built, it may be politically impossible to tear it down. Don't let our ever-so-benevolent masters build it in the first place. Join me, and express your anger now.

8 comments:

Greg Egan said...

There's a petition at:

http://www.getup.org.au/campaign/SaveTheNet/

stuart peace said...

There is also a facebook group. I started a thread and linked this post. you know, I have to say that I never thought this would actually happen.

Wayne said...

I am not a prude or wowser by any gauge but i have got to tell you i find it repulsive the way children of our "civilization have been bombarded with uncensored images of war. The warnographers of this world have been given carte blanche to pervert the minds of our most vulnerable, while they diverted our attention away from the foulest human behaviors and focused it on the lesser of two evils, pornography. The god-fearing leaders of the Judaeo-Christian and Muslim nations have constantly ignored the effects of their insane lust for war on the innocent and chosen instead to demonize anything vaguely associated with sexuality outside the accepted norms. On a scale of one to ten, how do YOU rate the collateral damage caused by war verses porn?
If we score the billions of people who have had their guts ripped out by war as a ten, then i would say the victims of pornography would rate less that one percent.Why are we not partitioned to be as outraged by our kids splattering heads on the internet as we are if they become digitally engaged in cyber sex?
Responsible adults would understand the irony of this and no matter what particular brand of belief, collectively pray that the incoming new world order gets its priorities in place and doesn't continue on with the insanities of the outgoing WARNOGRAPHY criminals.

Ergun Çoruh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ergun Çoruh said...

EFA (Electronic Frontiers Australia) also has a petition. 22659 have signed so far.

EFA No Clean Feed Campaign page:

http://nocleanfeed.com/action.html

EFA Home Page:

http://www.efa.org.au/

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