[LINK] 'Net filters "required" for all Australians, no opt-out

Stilgherrian stil at stilgherrian.com
Fri Oct 17 09:10:06 EST 2008

On 17/10/2008, at 8:53 AM, Kim Holburn wrote:
> http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20081016-net-filters-required-for-all-australians-no-opt-out.html
>> 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
>> 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.
>> Assuming this is in fact the way the scheme is implemented in
>> practice, it raises plenty of troubling questions. "Illegal" is a
>> broad definition, leaving users wondering exactly what kinds of
>> content will end up falling prey to the government's apparently
>> mandatory filtering restrictions.

I've been following all this reasonably closely and these two  
paragraphs are a bit jumbled. There are many reasons to be concerned  
about Internet filtering, but if this is the way the "anti filtering"  
case is being presented then it'll be shot down too easily.

The "illegal content" is not a particularly broad definition: it's  
child pornography, extremely violent sexual material and anything else  
that is a crime to possess or transmit or is otherwise specifically  
prohibited and would be "refused classification" by OFLC/ACMA. That no- 
one will be able to opt-out of this filtering, i.e. no-one will be  
able to say "send me the kiddie porn please" is not the issue. Indeed,  
this stuff is already blocked at the border.

The real issue is that the rest of the filtering is about  
"inappropriate" content, when there is no legal definition of  
"inappropriate" -- and that word also covers an awful lot more than  
just pornography. Equating "inappropriate" with "pornography" is one  
of the disturbing rhetorical techniques of the pro-censorship brigade.  
And last year Senator Conroy even equated anyone who wanted to opt out  
of *any* filtering as a child pornographer. Prick.

My previous writing on this (reverse chronological):

If today settles down a bit, I'll write something current... or it'll  
be over the weekend.


Stilgherrian http://stilgherrian.com/
Internet, IT and Media Consulting, Sydney, Australia
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