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Yep, as Australia Day approaches, my three sons are organising their annual celebration of all that is good about our nation; mateship, a fair go for all, freedom and openness. At the same time, I’m also reflecting on what type of Australia I want to leave for my children. For the first Australia Day ever, I fear that my sons’ freedom and openness is under threat.
Sundry Aussies in our pool on a previous Australia Day!
Australia Day has always been big at our place and this year, it’s even bigger. #2Son will be back from Hong Kong and we might even be welcoming some brand new Aussie citizens.
No, it’s not the world economic crisis; it’s not global terrorism; it’s something I thought I’d never see in my lifetime - the threat of censorship by our own Labor government.
Under the guise of “protecting children”, the Rudd government and particularly Senator Conroy have been working on a scheme to introduce mandatory ISP filtering of every internet connection in Australia. It has become obvious that this plan will not protect children at all. It is so flawed technically and legally that there is now fertile ground for conspiracy theories about censorship by stealth. Either that, or Senator Conroy is ignoring or just doesn’t understand the advice he is being given.
- The goverment’s own report from the ACMA1 has demonstrated how the proposed plan is ineffective and technically flawed. Everyone in the IT industry (except, of course, the vendors of “filtering” products) can see what a wasteful and ineffective scheme this is.
- And now a study by the prestigious Brooklyn Law School2 decries its lack of focus, transparency and accountability.
- In an earlier post (Cancer and Colitis victims Condemn Conroy’s Censorship), I described how people like myself with particular medical conditions will be denied access to support from internet forums.
- Earlier this week, Paul Syvret’s Courier-Mail article “Rudd’s web filter won’t work” described how … as a nation, as a vibrant and liberal democracy, we are in far more danger from a government that seeks to restrict basic freedoms and control our access to public domain material than from any net nasties. Not the Australia I want for my children.
Parents like myself, Aussie parents everywhere must speak out against Senator Conroy’s plan to censor the internet. If we do not, our children will inherit an Australia with an easily-manipulated and unaccountable censorship scheme in place; an Australia where my (and their) taxes are wasted on white elephants.
The Real Message
- To all parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts of Australian children, I say “Senator Conroy’s plan is dangerous for children. One of the proposed products will filter only 87% of unwanted websites. This is like 87% of a pool fence; worse than no pool fence at all. Don’t let your guard down. If necessary, use the in-home filters which you can supervise.”
- To the child protection groups who may be hitching their wagon to Senator Conroy’s train, I say “You are being taken for a ride. Do not be responsible for creating an environment that places children at risk.”
- To people looking for help with medical, social and human relationship problems, I say “Senator Conroy’s plan will block up to 1 in 12 of your legitimate websites. If you want them unblocked, you will have to ask for it. You will be dealing with technologists or bureaucrats, not people who understand your problem.”
- To citizens concerned about child pornography, I say “Senator Conroy’s tens of millions of dollars will not get one paedophile one metre closer to a courtroom. Spend the money on AFP detectives.”
- To all Australian taxpayers, I say “Senator Conroy is wasting your taxes on something which only appears to be doing something. Not only does it not work, it actually makes the Internet more dangerous for children.”
But the real message is this:
- To Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, I say “when you get back to work after this Australia Day, call off Senator Conroy’s $44m+ censorship scheme. Spend the money on the Australian Federal Police. Secure our children’s freedom.
Let there be No Censorship after Australia Day“.
Do this now - before Australia Day
Get this “Censorship by Stealth” out in the open. Talk to your family, your neighbours, shop assistants, taxi drivers about what sort of Australia you want for your children.
Mail or e-mail The Hon Kevin Rudd MP. Tell him you want No Censorship after Australia Day.
Mail or e-mail Senator the Hon Stephen Conroy. Tell him you don’t want your taxes wasted on this flawed censorship scheme.
Write to your local Member. Write to each of the Senators for your state. Tips: Be polite; Include your name and registered electoral address; Ask for an appointment to speak with them in person. They might be in the electorate over the next two weeks.
Sign the GetUP! online petition.
1. Australian Communications and Media Authority, Closed Environment Testing of ISP-Level Internet Content Filters - Report to the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, June 2008. Available at http://www.acma.gov.au/WEB/STANDARD/pc=PC_311316
2. Bambauer, Derek E.,Filtering in Oz: Australia’s Foray into Internet Censorship (December 22, 2008). Brooklyn Law School, Legal Studies Paper No. 125. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1319466. (Click the “Download” link above the abstract.)