According to Senator Stephen Conjob, Labor’s proposed mandatory internet filtering scheme will block ‘illegal’ content- and after all, no-one but fans of child pornography can complain about ‘illegal’ content being blocked, because, according to the esteemed Senator, ‘illegal is illegal.’
Except when the esteemed Senator is lying.
Mark Newton, network engineer for Internode, explains:
In a Senate estimates committee hearing on 20 October 2008, Minister Conroy confirmed that the existing ACMA prohibited online content list would form the basis of the mandatory ‘illegal material’ censorship scheme. The problem is that the ACMA prohibited online content list doesn’t actually restrict itself to illegal material. In addition to the illegal material Minister Conroy would like to ban for adults, the list also contains material the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC) has refused classification but which may still be legal to possess (if not to sell, hire, exhibit, or import) in Australia, as well as material rated X18+, R18+ material not protected by an adult verification service, and some MA15+ material. Material in these categories is mostly legal in Australia.
The ACMA prohibited online content list also contains a class of material that hasn’t been examined by the OFLC, but which, in the opinion of ACMA bureaucrats, ‘would be’ classified into one of the categories of prohibited content described above. But because the blacklist is secret, unaudited, and specifically exempted by legislation from the FOI application process, the OFLC would never get a chance to check the accuracy of these classifications- unless they downloaded the list once it was leaked.
That brings us to the most pernicious of unintended consequences: nobody would know (at first) what had been banned. Our society accepts that it is up to the courts to determine what is illegal. We do not then expect faceless public servants in the ACMA to be the real arbiters of an internet content blacklist. Yet Minister Conroy, who has established a remarkable track record of being wrong in this area, expects Australians to simply take his word for it when he says that ‘illegal material is illegal material.’
It is clear that a great many Australians disagree, despite Senator Conroy’s hysterical accusations that to do so is to endorse child pornography. In a nation that has enjoyed uncensored access to online services (including those that predate the internet) for over three decades without ill effect, imposing a national censorship regime such as the one proposed by Minister Conroy is a radical act that requires radical justification.
Naturally, this nuanced definition of ‘prohibited’ content is fully lost on Jim Wallace from the Australian Christian Lobby, whether due to Wallace’s limited understanding, limited intelligence or simply because he thinks he can pull a fast one on the Australian public as a result of Senator Conjob’s lies and obfuscation. Listen to Mark on ABC Radio National’s Life Matters as he hands Wallace his ass on a platter. (ABC RN audio, MP3) Wallace’s response? Accuse the highly knowledgeable Newton of deception. Nice one, Jim. Small bit of advice, Jim- don’t take on people who know what they’re talking about.
If this is the best justification the pro-censorship junta can come up with, implementation of the scam will be authoritarian, arbitrary and capricious.
Conventional wisdom on pornography use, that pushed by Helen Lovejoy-type moralists and other knee-jerking simpletons, is that pornography use causes sex crime.
Todd Kendall, from the Economics Department of Clemson University, published a study indicating that sexual assault crime is down a full 30% since 1993, when residential internet service (and thus porn) was becoming broadly available in the USA. Kendall surmises that the greater availability of porn via the ‘net is responsible for the drop in sexual assault crime. This finding is duplicated in 1989-2008 crime stats from northeastern Ohio:
Clemson study links rape drop to Internet
By Bob Dyer
Beacon Journal columnist
Published on Thursday, Jan 29, 2009
Sex crimes among Summit County juveniles are at their lowest rate since record-keeping began in 1989. Officials are baffled as to why.
Well, I can tell them why, and I can tell them in just one word: porn.
Never has pornography been more readily available. The hardest of hard-core smut can be seen every day by anybody with a computer and an Internet connection.
Isn’t porn supposed to lead to more sexual abuse of girls and women? Well, that was the theory, voiced constantly and vehemently for decades. But statistics show precisely the opposite.
During the 15-year period ending in 2008, the rate of forcible rape dropped a staggering 30 percent nationwide.
In 1992 – the Dark Ages of the Internet – about 43 people were raped among every 100,000 Americans, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report. Since then, the rate has dropped to 30 per 100,000. [...]
Every time- every single time that governments dabble in legislating morality, an epic failure is in the offing, mainly through unenforcibility, which naturally causes the public to lose respect for laws. In mere minutes, any computer-savvy kid can bypass any kind of filtering. If they can, you can bet that paedophiles can, too. The only effects this scheme will have are to slow down already abysmal internet access speeds and increase costs to ISPs and their users- of course, aside from handing paedophiles a neatly compiled bookmark list, when (not IF) the government banlist is leaked.
Word to the wise, Mr Rudd- drop this stupid idea like a pocketful of plutonium. Not only is it definitely not a vote getter, but in these tough economic times, there’s infinitely better uses for $125.8 million, such as fibre-optic internet service for urban residences and fast ADSL2+ for rural and regional Australia.
Leave the parenting biz to the parents.
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