Dumb decision by our new government over ‘Net filtering

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).

I had higher hopes for these people. I thought they were smart enough to realise this was unachievable and bad policy. It’s definitely not Government 2.0 as defined by William Eggers.

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).

I’m annoyed and disappointed along with Duncan Riley (also at TechCrunch), Nick Hodge, Mike Seyfang, Gary Barber, Kathryn Greenhill, Jasmin Tragas, James Farmer and Michael Kordahi.

Oh, there’s a Facebook group protesting about the decision.

They did what!?

If you’re a coder/developer of any sort, you MUST read The Daily WTF. Often funny, always producing those moments of "I can’t believe they did that… No, wait a minute. Yes I can."

Sometimes you’ve just got to wonder about these people…

Soundbuzz stupidity

Soundbuzz is an Australian (I think) online music store. It would appear that their aim in life is to alienate as many potential customers as possible, with this idiotic approach to browser limitation. To quote:

Thank You for visiting the Soundbuzz Music Store,

! We have detected that the browser you are using is not compatible with the Music Store that you are attempting to access.
This site has been designed to work with Internet Explorer Version 6 or above.
Please launch the site in Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 or click here to download Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.

Also, music can only be downloaded via your Windows PC as this store is not compatible with Macintosh.

The Soundbuzz team…

Obviously, some people are still living out the browser wars and just don’t have the smart to realise cross-platform delivery is the way to go.

Thou shalt not view our site

Thou shalt not view our site

Check this! I was trying to get a look at the web site for the new show Weeds (actual site here, but apparently I’m not allowed to look at it), as I’ve read a few good things about it. But apparently, Showtime US deems us antipodean types as not a suitable audience for their website. Stranger decisions have been made, but I’m yet to bear witness to them.
Why the hell do you block visitors to your site. Isn’t the web all about drawing visits in?

Copyright IS broken

Clay Shirky has told boingboing a tale which clearly illustrates the brokenness of copyright laws in the developed world.

These effects and others akin to them, created by the bloody-minded enforcement of stupid laws, are the reason so many applications are broken or crippled, why grannies and little kids get sued by the RIAA for file-sharing and why Clay can’t rip a DVD of his own work to AVI without breaking the law.

Dumb. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.

The online community has a civic duty to stop this insanity continuing. Do something. Join the EFF, or your local equivalent (like the EFA, here in Oz). Support and use free and open-source software in favor of commercial and closed-source where you can. Publish your media – blog, paper, music, art using Creative Commons. Write to your local member about injustices such as the restrictions on Eyes on the Prize.