Filter opponents appear to believe Twitter, online petitions, protests and letter-writing campaigns will be enough.

However, 10,000 people blacking out their avatars, retweeting blog posts and furiously agreeing with each other on Twitter merely adds to the cacophony of the echo chamber; it has no effect in the real world.

The closed circle of the Australian Twitterati and their friends in the technology and political media might well believe everyone is against the internet filter since everyone they know is talking about it.

But in the mainstream media, the filter was a lower-order news item on the day it was announced and has since almost disappeared.

This level of self-obsession reached the point where filter opponents spent a day debating whether #nocleanfeed or #openinternet was a more useful hashtag, as if nomenclature were the only thing holding the movement back.

Meanwhile Senator Conroy, the ACL's Jim Wallace and almost every mainstream media outlet were implying they were child pornographers.

I strongly believe the anti-filter lobby can succeed, but it must change tactics. Unless it stops preaching to the choir and starts getting into the serious business of lobbying, it is doomed to failure.


It's a good start, but it's NOT enough. For the opposition to the filter to have any practical effect, we have to include the generally quiet and dis-engaged public – those who only get this information from mainstream media (where, as Josh points out, this is a non-event), and who see it in simplistic terms like "think about the children".

And we have to be more effective in the political process (I facetiously suggested on Twitter that we hire Crosby Textor, but I'm only half-joking) – Conroy will see all the noise as so much water running off his back unless there is a realistic threat to the government at the next election.

There are already public organisations in vocal opposition to the filtering, Electronic Frontiers Australia probably the largest. What does it take for us to help EFA (and similar) get this message out of the echo chamber and onto the streets? More money? Hiring lobbyists (or becoming them)?

Cynically, Conroy intends to introduce the supporting legislation not long before the next election is due, possibly intended to stifle debate. Forewarned, it also allows an ideal opportunity to make it an election issue … but (perhaps unfortunately 🙂 ) we have to play the political game a lot better than we are at the moment.

Update: Tim Andrews has some good ideas about effective approaches (and ineffective ones).