As 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:
- read the ongoing discussion at Electronic Frontiers Australia in particular their critical analysis of the proposal
- explore the excellent critical thinking by members of Australia’s digital community – Gavin Heaton, Peter Black, Stilgherrian (1, 2)
- the discussion (1, 2) at Whirlpool, particularly this piece from a self-identified Christian mother
- the letter from Internet industry expert, Mark Newton, whose employer Senator Stephen Conroy’s office then sought to lean on in an attempt to shut him up
- this excellent piece in The Brisbane Times
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.