on mandatory internet filtering pt 2

Close to two years ago, on January 8, 2008, I posted the below rant on a facebook discussion board for The Greens – an Australian political party with typically strong social and environmental sustainablity policies. The idea on the table at the time – from which there has been a significant departure, was that the end user could opt out of the proposed filter by registering with their ISP (now, it seems, there is not even going to be an opt-out option).

In contrast with the post immediately preceding this one, I’m reasonably comfortable with asserting that the Australian public is (as a general rule) fundamentally lazy when it comes to civil liberties.

After all, I honestly thought when I originally posted this, emailed everyone I knew about it and brought it up (to the point of being obnoxious) in almost every social situation I found myself in, simple logic would be exercised and the entire ridiculous idea would be abandoned.

But no! Instead, those who pay attention to what’s actually going on in their own country – less than 124 000 (or less than one percent of the country’s registered voters) are opposed to it if you use Getup! as a guide – have invested millions of hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars opposing it.

Money and time that could have been better exercised toward dozens of more meaningful engagements.

So the responsibility for not only this travesty of civil liberties, but the other various (inter)national problems that have not been leveraged into better positions through the application of time, intelligence and capital wasted on this endeavour rests with the general public.

It also rests as strongly with those of us who knew about it for not conducting a more consistent, organised and effective campaign to put the kibosh on this sooner. The lesson for me here is to organise as well as agitate – and to find a way to bring these changemakers together so that they can succeed faster (hence my commitment to W1SD0M – a project I’ll riff about in more detail at a later point).

So I’m throwing down the gauntlet, as much out of necessity as disgust, to Australians everywhere. If, as a nation, we invested even one percent of the time we spend gawking at sports on the more pressing issues of our time, surely it’s possible that less and less people will abandon our shores for more favourable climates where the necessity for change is not only realised but acted upon?


  • Am i the only person here who thinks that the idea of federally mandated censorship of the internet is a significant departure from basic civil liberties?
  • Didn’t the previous federal government introduce a FREE filter for parents to download and install on relevant computers?
  • Aren’t there more than enough options for those concerned with internet content to utilise within their own environments?
  • Do we really need what could be misconstrued as a neo-christian approach to parenting?

The government, surely, does not exist to replace the basic responsibilities parents have to their children?

But if they want to f**k up the internet for the rest of us who, for whatever reason, might want or need to have access to potentially objectionable content (researchers, students, ngo’s, charities etc will all be affected by this the same as porn aficionados) then we should all sit back and say nothing.

After all, internet speeds and access in Australia are among the slowest and lowest in the developed nations.

I am convinced that the over whelming majority of internet users will be contacting their ISP’s to get unblocked – but do you really want to have your name on a register somewhere (with your ISP) regarding your request to view what some might call morally objectionable content?

Why not reverse the situation? Why not create a filtering system that can be implemented by request at an ISP level, so that those who are incapable of making use of the plethora of filtering options already available to them can make a phonecall, or login and check a box and implement a non-local filter?

It is only one short (although perhaps improbable) step from this type of control to the steady sanitisation of all cultural and social expression.

Internet access is an individual choice – if you’re not prepared to filter it yourself, and you don’t like what’s on it (just like with tv or cable) DON”T HAVE IT IN YOUR HOME.

Come on Kevin – whose half-baked idea is this? I remember supporting your election because i imagined a nation with greater civil liberties and the addressing of inequities your campaign promised.

One Comment on “on mandatory internet filtering pt 2”

  1. Great perspective, Cameron; thanks for writing these articles. This issue of internet censorship is so frightening and strange. It would normally be something I'd associate with a conservative party representing the religious right, not the ALP. Is it just me, or did the new internet censorship laws seem to come way out from left field?

    Perhaps the Christian right has a lot of clout in this country?

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