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Here in Australia, if you have been spending any non-trivial time on the Web, you have probably come across the debate around the Government’s proposed mandatory ISP-level filter of all web traffic, based on a centrally-administered blacklist. I don’t have the space (or inclination!) to list everything said on the topic (search on “nocleanfeed” and you’ll probably find most of it anyway), but if you want a flavour of the debate you could do worse than check Senator Kate Lundy’s posts on the subject, and to get a feel for the opposition to the policy read ALL the comments on those posts.

Some of the language used has at times been intemperate, which is unfortunate but generally indicates the level of feeling on the subject. As well, there are so many problems with the policy as advertised that it is difficult to believe that any sensible politician would have proposed it, and it is being opposed on the basis of every flaw.

My position? I have no interest whatsoever in the proposal’s technical feasibility (although it would appear to be useless in any practical sense) or lack thereof. In fact the MORE likely it is to work, the greater my opposition.

My problems boil down to this:

  • It is an unacceptable extension of censorship and a reduction of our freedoms of speech and assembly (I know these freedoms are not codified in our constitution or law, but they are implied, and we have agreed to them globally via UN charter; and yes, I DO consider the internet a place of assembly)
  • It is a cynical and undemocratic political exercise of repaying election preferencing favours to narrow sectional interests that are not representative of our society generally
  • As protection for our children, it is ineffective at best, counter-productive at worst

Note – these are personal opinions … you are welcome to disagree with them, and we may (at another time and place) have some invigorating conversations around them. And they are not accompanied by any lengthy argument – you’ll find plenty of support for the positions above around the Internet, and said much better and more eloquently than I can.

These things are one of the reasons people in other parts of the world see Australia as an attractive destination. People elsewhere die trying to achieve the freedoms we are about to piss up against the wall. If we don’t value what we have, we will lose it, and I say “not on my watch”.

A note to close: props to Kate Lundy for remaining part of the conversation, but my message to her is: this is a “line-in-the-sand” issue, and (I should point out that I am very familiar with your commitments to the Labor Party as a condition of your candidacy) you need to decide whether you side with a policy that is clearly not supported by the electorate (those pesky people who voted for you!) and is a denial of democratic freedoms, or oppose it and your party. Ultimately, this may mean not just crossing the floor in a Senate vote, but your resignation (or expulsion) from the Labor Party. It’s that important …

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