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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. Author of FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND THE SECULAR STATE (2012), HUMANITY ENHANCED (2014), and THE MYSTERY OF MORAL AUTHORITY (2016).

Saturday, December 19, 2009

John Birmingham on internet censorship


On the clean feed issue, the way forward is less obvious. This dog of a system has been dreamed up by one of the Ruddbot's own and very much appeals to his Puritan sensibilities. The minute he abandons the filter he leaves himself open to attack from the Mad Monk that he is opening the gate to pedophiles and bomb makers. The fact that accessing, downloading or storing this sort of material on your hard drive is already illegal seems to have passed these clowns by. It is a dangerous issue for wired libertarians because we are very easily framed as defending the rights of child pornographers and whack jobs.

But nobody is doing that. This stuff is already illegal. By all means enforce the law. In fact devote all the added resources that would go into setting up a filter system and funding its bureaucracy towards the existing agencies who police these issues. Building a massively intrusive and undoubtedly inefficient, ineffective and occasionally malign bureaucracy is not a solution to net-based child porn. It's a political tactic to appear as though you're doing something.

The thing to remember about a filter is that once it's in place it can be used to block a lot more in the future. For instance a different government led by, let's say, a very devout Catholic, and depending on the votes of a few thousand Evangelicals in crucial swing states, might very well legislate against abortion. Both as a matter of principle and electoral pragmatism. A filter such as Sen. Conroy wishes to place over the internet would go a long way towards ensuring that anybody who wished to access information about safe abortion procedures was unable to.

Yes, that is well, clearly, and accurately argued. Go here for the whole discussion.

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