[LINK] Gillard backs internet filter

Robin Whittle rw at firstpr.com.au
Wed Jul 7 23:15:43 AEST 2010

I assume the ALP purged its Stalinists in the 1950s.  This is a whole
new crop - people who weren't even born then.

Why is the mainstream Labor Party - or at least the parliamentary
subset - dominated by Stalinists or people who are so cluelessly
unworldly as to advocate Internet censorship without realising how
oppressive and counter-productive it is?

Here's my understanding:

   ALP policy is to legislate to force all ISPs to block access to
   websites according to a secret list prepared by bureaucrats.  I
   understand there's no judicial oversight, but that an appeal
   system is being contemplated:


   The criteria is that some or all of the material at a given site
   has either been refused classification by the Classifications
   Board, or would be, according to the ACMA.  Some sites or parts
   of sites would be on the list due to complaints to the ACMA.
   Others would be from lists provided by overseas agencies - list
   of sites which purportedly contain child sexual abuse material.

The arguments about ineffectiveness and the broad nature of what
would be banned are well known:


How is it that Western Civilisation has created a situation where
most of the people in what should be the most progressive,
enlightened, party in Australia support this crap?  I think it is a
mixture of oppressive intent and culpable cluelessness.

This is not 1995, with the legislators and public are new to the
Internet - many or most not having used it.  All the legislators and
most of the voting public have been using the Net extensively for 10

So 15 years of the Internet supposedly improving people's ability to
think freely, develop democracy etc. and it looks like this sort of
rot could be passed by a parliament of a Western nation.

Twice in the 1990s I recall there were US federal laws for Internet
censorship - both immediately found to be unconstitutional due to the
First Amendment.  This 18th century amendment, and its 20th century
interpretation, has been of immense significance to people in all

I recall the coalition's last Communications Minister - Helen Coonan
- had it right: that an attempt to filter Internet communications
like this would be costly and ineffective.

If the next government passes it, I expect there will be a collective
effort to make a mockery of it, by assiduously listing all the banned
URLs overseas at multiple sites - so people who pay for overseas
proxy servers and the like can see the list and the banned sites for

I wonder if the government would go so far as to ban anyone using
VPNs, proxies etc. - or ban any Australian company from selling
software or services which could be used to circumvent the filter.

I like to think that the filter would soon be seen to be far more
trouble than it is worth.  However, there is a real possibility that
enough of the public and politicians will be able to deny this to
keep the thing alive for years.  Almost all those people would be
active Internet users - so this would prove that the Net is at least
as good at supporting and promulgating BS, ignorance and oppressive
intentions as it as at promoting "enlightenment", however defined.

 - Robin

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