The Rudd & Conroy internet censorship conjob: It ain’t about the children
Wednesday December 30th 2009, 4:43 am

Irene Graham at Libertus has written a comprehensive breakdown of Labor’s internet censorship plans, inclusive of the differences between Labor’s 2007 platform statement and the proposed legislation.

At every opportunity to date, Conroy has bleated the ‘child porn’ and ‘child protection’ excuses for implementing censorship, when in fact, the planned censorship scheme will do absolutely nothing to address either. The filter will only be able to block an infinitesimally small number of WWW sites, whilst allowing all peer-to-peer traffic to move unabated, the latter being known by law enforcement as the primary mode used by paedophiles for traffic in child porn. Neither will the filter stop paedophiles from grooming children for sexual access via chatrooms, Facebook, etc.

Another claimed aim of the filter was to protect children from ‘inadvertent exposure’ to ‘RC’ material. In 16+ years of using the internet, nothing has ever ‘inadvertently’ popped up on my screen. If ever I’ve found anything about anything, it’s because I was looking for it. And anyone looking for something which is blocked by the Great Firewall of Australia will circumvent the filter if they feel like it. Can we please have some real, independently replicatable data about how many children actually are ‘inadvertently exposed’ to ‘RC’ material and what demonstrable harms such exposures cause?

The Enex test results make it plain that if anyone wants to circumvent the filter, they can. It’s trivial to do so. However, the wording of the test results misrepresents who will be able to do so. The report asserts that ‘technically competent’ users will be able to bypass the filter. ‘Technically competent’ would include pretty much any 8-10 year old looking for porn, as well as (and especially) paedophiles looking for depictions of child sexual abuse.

Graham also busts Conroy’s claims of success based on the recently released Enex filter test results. Conroy’s latest lie is that filtering will slow internet access by ‘one seventieth of the blink of an eye,’ a completely meaningless figure, hardly a measurement. It’s unsurprising that when no parameters for success were determined before the so-called test commenced that Conroy would be able to make any claim he chose about the test results- and that’s what he’s doing. Naturally, Conroy claims the filter doesn’t slow anything down nor block anything it shouldn’t, both assertions being clearly false.

If indeed Rudd Labor’s ISP censorship plan was actually intended to protect children, Labor certainly would not choose the proposed plan, due to its demonstrable inefficacy. Parents who expect truth in the government’s claims of making the internet ‘safe’ for children, and who then, upon the implementation of a censorship system, allow them unsupervised access would appear to have a strong claim for damages against the government when the precious snowflakes encounter material which is not age appropriate.

Worst of all, the list of sites which will be blocked will be secret and unappealable. If the filter actually worked, there would be no reason to keep the list secret; the banned sites would be inaccessible. Sanctions based upon secret evidence much more closely resemble the behaviour of totalitarian regimes as are found in Iran, North Korea and China than they do of any free, liberal democracy, despite Conroy’s protestations that it’s unfair or reactionary to compare Australia to such places.

All as such, Labor’s censorship scheme is clearly not directed at ‘saving the children.’ So what exactly IS it directed at? Conroy’s certainly not being forthcoming about the real reasons for its existence. It is obviously directed at stopping adults from accessing information which the government does not want them to see. What doesn’t a government want you to see? Information which refutes their claims or which embarrasses them? Information which corrects government lies or which embarrasses the government not only should not be censored, but in many cases is protected under whistleblower statutes. Without going down the rabbit hole of conspiracy theories, it’s prima facie obvious that Conroy’s claims for the need for internet censorship don’t concur with reality.

The community of internet users have no need for censorship; moreover, the policy which Labor wishes to implement doesn’t match the policy which they took to the election in 2007. Labor thus have no mandate to enact mandatory internet censorship, no matter whether Kate Lundy (or her staffer Pia Waugh) thinks the community misunderstood the policy or not.

Sally forth if you like, Labor- but enacting mandatory censorship is ballot box poison.


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