Hubris, Open Internet and Clean feeds

Parts of this post were originally a comment on Senator Kate Lundy’s blog post on the Clean Feed policy.

Today, Senator Kate Lundy, a politician I admire greatly and my local Senator, posted her views on the government’s Clean Feed policy. While hinting at her opposition to the policy, she very much toes the party line, which is to be expected given the control freak Prime Minister we have. I had hoped she would expressed a strongly dissenting view. Of course, I understand that is incredibly difficult for a politician to do, no matter how much her constituents might want it to be the case. Open dissent is unlikely to be allowed in Federal Labor.

It is in stark contrast to the laudable position taken by her Labor colleague, NSW State Parliamentarian, Penny Sharpe, over whom Federal Labor holds no sway.

I’ve written and spoken publicly a number of times on this issue in the past couple of years. It’s all available on this blog and clearly points out the various issues with the policy. I’m hardly the most eloquent on the matter, but there you go.

As for the history of the issue, here’s what I remember from 2007 before the release of the current policy:

  • the Labor opposition had a policy that required ISPs to offer a non-mandatory clean feed so that subscribers who wanted it could have it
  • this was to be supported by education programs and free filtering software

Imperfect, flawed, sure. But certainly workable.

At this point, the technically savvy voting public, especially those inclined to vote Labor, were pretty comfortable with the policy. The matter of ACMA’s blacklist was still contentious given the holes in the governance of it.

The release of the policy saw several people (including me) note there was ambiguity around for whom, where and when the “mandatory” applied. Was it mandatory to offer? Was it mandatory only where children were concerned? Or was it plain mandatory?

What has happened now, as Senator Conroy appears to have received increasingly bad advice from his Department and has become increasingly strident on the matter, equating opposition to the mandatory feed with being pro-pedophilia, is that the public understanding of the policy as campaigned upon no longer equates to the implementation.

The implementation being proposed has several flaws, not the least of which is the possible breach of the UNs Universal Declaration of Human Rights (we’ll see how that goes in the High Court, no doubt). All the other flaws have been raised, discussed, analysed and dissected at length, so I’ll not rehash them here.

Suffice it to say, this policy is not what the public voted for and is not what they want, either. The public outcry is more than adequate demonstration of that. You have to wonder what previously unencountered level of hubris Senator Conroy and the Prime Minister have access to that has them perpetuating this dangerously flawed policy.

4 Replies to “Hubris, Open Internet and Clean feeds”

  1. That human right you point to, isn’t it already broken by laws? I mean, stupid taking it to the extreme example if it is my opinion that I can drive at 200km on australian roads, the Law stops me expressing that by banning cars that drive that fast and impossing speed limits on my freedom.

    Aren’t a lot of “freedoms” that people think will be blocked (i.e. euthanasia assistance material) already blocked in hard forms (i.e. books) today even if we do or don’t agree that they should be, as it is illegal (maybe illegal is the wrong word, banned might be better) to distribute today (because there is a law that says you can’t distribute material to assist someone break a law and it is still (rightly or wrongly, I personally think wrongly) against the law to euthanasiarise (sorry about the spelling) oneself)?


  2. Kate Lundy has fallen victim to the Labor Party’s “fight in private; toe the party line in public” rule (which she would have been fully aware of when she put herself up for preselection) – it’s one of Labor’s great strengths, while at the same time one of it’s greatest weaknesses. Here we see someone who has a very good grasp of the possibilities of the Web, and who embraces them with vigour, hobbled in her previously-stated opposition to internet filtering. Unfortunately, she either has to keep with the bland newspeak in public (and fight like crazy behind closed doors, hopefully) or resign from the party – and I still think we’re better off with Kate in the party in office than as an independent with few resources.

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