Making the Interweb safe for the kids. Apparently.
January 1, 2008
Here come the moral police:
Australia is planning tough new rules to protect children from online pornography and violence.
The new Labor government wants internet service providers to filter content to ensure households and schools do not receive “inappropriate” material.
Civil libertarians have condemned the plan as unnecessary, and say it will erode the freedom of the internet.
But telecommunications minister Stephen Conroy said more needed to be done to protect children.
Protect the children? Gah! Mr hand, meet Mr forehead.
Firstly, he seems to be assuming that “the children” (and just what age groups are we talking about here anyway – five year olds or 15 year olds?) want to be protected. It’s hard to save someone who doesn’t want to be saved.
Secondly, if we are saving “the children”, why is it necessary to restrict the internet for everyone?
The Australian government’s aim is to ensure that children only have access to family-friendly websites.
And how pray tell do they intend to do this? Magic?
Service providers will be expected to stop the flow of pornography and other X-rated or violent content.
Ah, so the government will be taking a strong stand on protecting “the children” by telling the ISPs to do it. Ha ha. And how on earth is the ISP supposed to know what constitutes objectionable material that needs to be blocked?
The government is set to compile a list of unsuitable sites, although at this stage it is unclear what will be deemed unsuitable.
Indeed. Like the anti-terrorism legislation, all they need to do is make the criteria so vague that it can retroactively fit just about anything. Brilliant. I feel safer already.
And what about content that doesn’t come directly form websites – are they also going to restrict torrent and peer-to-peer file sharing too? What’s the point of oppressive censorship if you don’t get everything?
Australians wanting unfettered access to the web will have to contact their supplier to opt out of the new regime.
Now here is an important point – why make it opt out? If it is opt in most people wont bother, other than parents who are particularly concerned, so the scheme will only provide a list of people who are really worried about what their kids are exposed to on the internet. There is no stigma attached to these people, because it is considered more moral to have the filtering than not. Harmless.
Alternatively in an opt out system, you get a list of a minority of people who don’t want their access to the internet hobbled (for whatever reason). Just what kind of stigma do you think will go along with that?
Critics of the proposals have insisted they have no place in a liberal democracy, and have accused Canberra of being oppressive.
But Mr Conroy has been unmoved by their arguments.
The minister stressed that if people equated freedom of speech with watching child pornography then he would always disagree with them.
What an fucking profoundly stupid and misleading thing to say. Because people don’t want their access to the internet censored (especially considering the fuzzy description of what constitutes objectionable material) they must therefore be wanting child porn? This is exactly the kind of cretinous logic that will stigmatize people who opt out of the filtering*.
Concerns have also been raised that the government’s filters could slow down access to the net, in a country where connection speeds are often below international standards.
Slower than already?
I shudder to think how much this stupid, restrictive and ultimately pointless political grandstanding is going to cost.
I have a suggestion. How about we save some time and money by putting the onus back on families to take a little more responsibility for monitoring their own children’s internet usage, and then maybe the rest of us can keep the freedom to behave like responsible adults and make our own decisions (within the bounds of the law) about what we find objectionable.