The Great Firewall of Canberra

No Clean Feed - Stop Internet Censorship in AustraliaAs a resident of our national capital, the references in the media to “Canberra” as an analogy for the Federal Government sometimes bug me, as they must equally bother the residents of places like Washington DC and other seats of government. But that’s a minor issue in comparison to the serious issue facing Australians with the proposal to impose mandatory filters on Internet traffic.

Personally, I’m a libertarian. So long as you’re not hurting anyone, I see no reason for government to get involved in stopping you from doing anything. Provided it’s legal. Using the Internet in this country is legal, or it was the last time I checked. The imposition of the proposed mandatory clean feed, and the opt-out only (thus potentially tarring the opter-out with an undeserved brush) approach is nanny stating at it’s very worst.

At best the proposal suffers from the well-documented flaws in execution that could slow Australia’s already slow Internet speeds to a crawl. At worst, it’s censorship on a scale with the most oppressive regimes in the world. Electronic Frontiers Australia would appear to agree – the discussion on their blog is running hot on the topic.

If, like me, you feel this proposal is ill-considered, bad public policy, I encourage you to do something about it. At the very least, write a letter to your local MP. For more ideas, take a look at No Clean Feed.

And for those not sure, educate yourself! There is already a great deal of public material worth reading:

And here’s the thing. One of the core arguments in the government’s position is protecting our children. Sorry, but that’s my job as a parent.

My daughter has been using the Internet since she could sit at a computer and she’s about to turn 11. She’s had a personal, unfiltered, unchecked by me email address since she was five and she has admin rights on the computer she uses. We have well defined, well understood rules for her Internet use. The computer is in an open part of the house. In all her time using the Internet she has never witnessed anything untoward, been spammed, stalked or otherwise bothered.

I’m thinking she and other kids don’t so much need protection as we as adults need not to abrogate our parenting responsibilities and learn about and understand the Internet. Particularly in the context of our children’s use of it.

If you need some help, ask me. I’ll give you a hand.

14 Replies to “The Great Firewall of Canberra”

  1. My personal story.
    A couple of years ago we found out that our son, then 13? was looking at porn on the web. At no stage did we think of filtering or denying him internet access- but it opened discussion on pornography, women, prostitution – a whole range of issues.
    I consider that the proposed filter is ridiculous on so many levels. We need to take responsibility for our kids using the Internet responsibly.

  2. I’m thinking she and other kids don’t so much need protection as we as adults need not to abrogate our parenting responsibilities and learn about and understand the Internet. Particularly in the context of our children’s use of it.

    I couldn’t agree more. People have become used to “the Government” looking after things that they should be taking as their own responsibilities.

    Given the hyperbole and hysteria that is building about this issue, how do you think we can reverse the trend and get people to shoulder their own responsibilities – or is that, ironically, counterproductive in itself?

  3. Brilliant piece Stephen:

    If as you say:

    “Sorry,but that’s my job as a parent.” this leads to more parents taking responsibility for being a parent rather than expecting Teachers and the Govt to do it for them society will be a much better place for all.

    Pity Stephen Conroy isn’t more interested in society, rather than the political stakes

    Thanks for speaking out

    Suzie

  4. I agree with you Steve that it is time for parents to take responsibility for their children’s internet use, just as they should be involved in what their kids watch on TV, or see at the cinemas or read in a book.

    As a father of a young boy, I’m certainly interested in hearing more about your approache to your daughter’s internet access.

  5. Trib – All with it all. Just one thing – as a non-parent (yet), I am starting to feel like I don’t get a say in all this.

    What about households without kids? Do we automatically get removed from the censorship list?

  6. @Matt, parenthood is a consideration, but very far from the only one.

    It’s relevant to those of us who are as protecting our kids (who quite likely are smarter than Senator Conroy and his advisers on these issues) is a core pillar of the arguments for the censorship proposed. This morning on Radio National, Senator Conroy once again drew the parallel between those opposing the moves and pedophiles.

    This argument is demonstrably false and has no validity, yet appeals to the masses who aren’t educated in the issues. I find it personally offensive.

    As for those without kids, I’m afraid you’re lumped in with the rest of us.

  7. I asked my 11 year old son about this here’s what he had to say:

    “What about video games? You know we don’t have an R rating here, so loads of games are censored or banned. So the internet thing is no surpise really!”

    Bloody kids are smarter than we think. Wonder if the internet has anything to do with it?

  8. It is heartening to see that some rational thinking is still going on around this debate. But will our ‘political lords and masters’ (somebody should remind tham they work for us), see sense?

  9. @Matt Moore
    >What about households without kids? Do we automatically get removed from the censorship list?

    Oh thank you Matt, finally someone else said what I have been all along… There are a Majority of people without kids either not had then yet or they are grown up, but still everyone will be punished by this gross restriction “in the name of the children”.

    And now the newest revelation, p2p is to be er ‘blocked’… finally some true colours, the RIAA and MPAA and other ‘big corporates’ are trying to stop filesharing via the Free Trade Agreement using this filter.

    Then COnroy will sugar coat it to the mindless masses that will see this as a way to protect their kids. It is not their fault that they don’t understand they can use private filters as many people are computer illiterate and I have nothing against that, so the govt will prey on this and sell then a safety sheep skin covering an evil wolf beneath.

    Not happy Jan.

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