Government of any color will never learn – they’re not interested enough in the Internet and its technology to really understand the futility of this at a technical level. Yesterday’s announcement verifying the Australian Federal Government will be mandatorily requiring ISPs to filter the nastiness from the ‘Net is plain and simple stupidity. Not only is it simply not achievable, it’s nanny stating at its worst and significantly limiting of free speech (something we don’t have a guaranteed right to in Australia AFAIK).
My question has several parts, similar to others’ questions. Specifically:
- what is to be filtered? I’m all for eliminating child porn and unfettered violence against the defenceless, but consenting adults watching others having sex or engaging in Ultimate Fighting is fine by me (even if I’m not interested). Fringe opinion of all sorts may not be tasteful to me and others of a similar mind, but I absolutely reject that there should be protections against expression of that opinion.
- who decides what is to be filtered and on what basis? The AFP? The ACMA? Some other classification body? Parliament? What are the criteria and where are they published? Is there publicly visible appeal mechanism?
- how will the filter be implemented, at what cost and to whom? In Australia’s ISP market, the implementation cost is likely to be passed to the consumer and that’s not on. Our Internet costs are already too high.
- why is the system opt-out rather than opt-in and what happens to the list of those that opt out? This strikes me as a risky approach where those that opt out could be branded as wanting access to inappropriate material rather than wanting open access for legitimate reasons. That is an unacceptable risk.
As a civil libertarian (I’m a member of both EFA and the EFF) who opposes censorship, I think decisions about appropriateness of content ought to be in the hands of the consumer, and not the government. I also believe we should be educating our children about the Internet and appropriate use of it. My 10 year old daughter uses an unfiltered feed at home, however as her parent I (and my wife) discuss with her the fact that there is inappropriate material on the ‘Net and that she needs to be aware of it. We don’t show it to her, but we do discuss it in age-relevant terms and the computer she uses is in a public part of the house. We actively parent rather than letting the PC be a babysitter.
I get why the government has taken this step. It’s good politics. It panders to the masses who don’t understand this is impossible. And it’s bad politics to be lecturing parents that use PCs as babysitters to take an interest in their kids and get involved as parents. That doesn’t get you elected (or reelected).
Oh, there’s a Facebook group protesting about the decision.