Australia Takes Another Step Backwards

Every Australian thought that they had dodged a bullet when the issue of internet filtering was dropped. Now, after the election of the first female prime minister, it looks as though the hot-button issue is back on, and the new PM is for it.

This is a very naive view to be held by someone who is ostensibly going to run a country. The idea that something can actually be eliminated by filtrations  of the internet is as silly as the idea that the cost of the filtration would be completely free. The people that believe this really should do a bit of study before espousing these positions. To this writer, the ideas of filtration and the stopping of selected content (any content mind you, not just something deemed pornography) as possible is proof that these people never have thought it  through, or read the Greek myth of the Hydra. However, the belief persists, for whatever reason – here in the United States, about 3 years ago Andrew Cuomo, the attorney general of New York made a lot of political hay with this tack, but did little to eliminate anything, except the use of ISP-held NNTP servers. More costs were involved for the legitimate users of NNTP, and the ISPs were left cowering, tails between their collective legs, due to the court of public opinion. It shows that public stupidity is a powerful tool, and that correctly focussed, it can make life difficult for any legitimate business, or user of the internet.

The article from Download Squad gives the details for the problems down under -

Just weeks ago, Australia received its very first female Prime Minister. It was a surprising bit of news, and it came just after word had broken out that the "toxic" issue of government-run Internet-censorship was set to be shelved. Unfortunately, Julia Gillard is not the shiny new PM that everyone had hoped she would be. She wants to push forward with the much-hated Internet filter, and doesn’t see what all the fuss is about.

Gillard’s stance on the issue is pretty simple: Since Aussies can’t legally go and see child porn in a movie theater, or catch it on cable, or buy it at the news stands, then they obviously shouldn’t be allowed to look for it online, either. The problem with that point of view, aside from it being unabashedly naive, is that it’s ignoring the fact that a blacklist simply won’t work for the purpose of deterring predators. That’s omitting the countless other arguments against such a filter, which is an idea so beyond rational that it’s simply indefensible.

This filter is of course completely separate from the proposed legislation for a data retention directive, which would have Australian ISPs logging all traffic data for up to 10 years if hard-liners get their way. If the two plans ever come to fruition, Australia would be more like Iran, China and North Korea than any other modern society as far as the Internet is concerned.

This affects everyone, not just supposed offenders. The costs of entering this data, warehousing this data, and indexing this data, so that it is available when wanted is not cheap. Costs like this are paid by raising rates on people, and most get nothing in return for the rising prices.

The ability of people to shield digital data, as proven by the case in Brazil not long ago, means that trying to eliminate undesirable content is a fool’s mission when it is undertaken over the internet. Things like this must be handled at the source.

While there’s no shortage of people ready and willing to fight any legislation that provides mandatory Internet-filtering for all Australians, the fact remains that those in power are the same people who concocted the whole idea in the first place. Gillard tries to draw a distinction between what is — and what isn’t — a "legitimate use of the Internet." Once a government starts believing it can decide something as basic as that, the slippery slope begins to take shape, clichés be damned.

The people here should watch this closely, because the things that move people in this way tend to spread like seeds in the wind, and today’s bad idea in Australia is tomorrow’s new thought in America, or Canada, or anywhere else that rational thought is not always fought for with the greatest intensity.

The largest problem is that many of these zealots actually believe they are capable of accomplishing their tasks, and that they are doing the greater public a good turn.

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Every great mistake has a halfway moment, a split second when it can be recalled and perhaps remedied.

Pearl S. Buck

sheeple Sheeple are the reason these things start. They take an idea at face value, and never bother to do any deep thinking concerning possible consequences.


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