About Me

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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).

Friday, November 09, 2012

Australian government backtracks on internet censorship

The Australian government has apparently abandoned its clean feed/mandatory filtering proposal, contenting itself with requiring ISPs to block Interpol's list of the most severely abusive child pornography sites.

I doubt that anyone who has been opposing mandatory filtering wants to defend those sites or access to them, even if a requirement imposed on ISPs causes them some inconvenience (too bad: for most of us, that was never what the argument was about). The sort of material that makes it to Interpol's list is obviously abusive.

Meanwhile, this outcome is an example of what I often argue for on this blog and elsewhere - we have ended up with a narrowly tailored law that deals with the worst aspects of a social problem, without an overreaching and clumsy attempt to micromanage things. The latter often sounds fine in theory, but it too easily creates systems that are over-inclusive and, in any event, ripe for scope creep. Wherever important freedoms are at stake - such as freedom of speech - that is not acceptable.

In this case, the public opposition to overreaching legislative proposals was successful. All the same, we need to be vigilant against this sort of thing whenever we see it.

Of course, it shouldn't be surprising that those moral watchdogs at the Australian Christian Lobby still want a wide-ranging scheme of censorship of sexual material on internet, based on "think of the children" grounds.

1 comment:

godsbelow said...

That's good news! It's wonderful when reason prevails....or at least it's wonderful when a deadlocked parliament prevents the passage of bad legislation. Either way, I'll take it.