Labor’s mandatory ISP level internet filtering: It’s dead, Jim
Friday August 06th 2010, 2:12 pm

Joe Hockey has announced that the Liberal Party will block Labor’s internet censorship scam.

The Greens had announced their opposition to Labor’s impossibly stupid internet censorship idea almost as soon as it was floated.

Family Fist’s Steve Fielding had indicated his support for the scheme (and also thinks global warming is a hoax). However, Fielding will almost certainly lose his seat to the Greens in the upcoming election. As such, the Greens will hold the balance of power in the Senate… and Labor will not be able to assemble the numbers to push internet censorship through Parliament.

Conroy appears shocked- shocked, I tell you- that the Coalition have put the nail in the mandatory filter’s coffin.

Conroy has derided citizen filtering opponents as being pro-kiddie porn on numerous occasions. Anyone taking bets on how long it will take for Labor/Conroy to label the Coalition and the Greens as paedophiles as well?

However, the retort from the Australian Christian Lobby’s Jim Wallace regarding the death of the filter is probably the most astounding (if predictable):

Coalition ISP filter announcement incomprehensible

The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) described as incomprehensible Joe Hockey’s announcement that the Coalition would do away with ISP level filtering of the internet.

“This announcement is incomprehensible on a number of levels”, said Mr Wallace. “Firstly to say it doesn’t work is to deny the trials that show it does. Secondly to have a system that orders takedown notices for Australian sites carrying Refused Classification (RC) material, but allow it to come in unhindered from overseas sites is simply illogical. And finally to imply that parents rather than the ISPs are best equipped to manage the technology by presumably introducing the discredited Net Nanny system, again simply defies technological reality.”

Mr Wallace said the anti-filter proponents have run a well funded scare campaign on the issue, beginning with claims it would slow down the internet by up to 87%, only to be proven it was less than 1/70th of the blink of an eye, and conspiracy theories that saw us all becoming like China and North Korea.

“On every level arguments against ISP level blocking of RC material have been disproved or shown to be illogical,” said Mr Wallace. “Even the much publicised statement by the US Ambassador that he was against it because he wanted to see the internet free “as the oceans have to be free”, conveniently overlooked the fact that the US blocks drugs been brought by boat from Central America to the US because of their harm to US society. ISP level filtering does the same with harmful internet product, and offends the freedom of the internet no more than the US does that of the sea in drug control,” he said.

Important to understand in the Government’s plan is that ISP filtering is only part of the solution to the problem of RC material on the internet, that it includes in particular additional funding of police efforts to intercept illegal peer to peer material and find the perpetrators of it.

“The Govt is absolutely right to retain its resolve on this issue,” said Mr Wallace, “and it is extremely disappointing to see the Coalition adopt a policy that, as the civil libertarians behind it intend, will establish a principle where this medium is beyond regulation – quite unlike the supposedly free seas.”

If Jim Wallace thinks the Liberals’ stance against mandatory ISP level filtering is incomprehensible, he is only indicating his limited ability to comprehend.

Joe Hockey gave a fully adequate and accurate description of why the Coalition opposes the filter, based in the results of the Enex test.

The Enex test did NOT indicate that the filter would work. It indicated that it could be circumvented by any 12-year-old, using web proxies, the Tor online anonymity program, peer-to-peer file sharing and VPNs- and ISPs can do nothing at all about circumvention. As such, the Enex test declared that the filter was a failure, right out of the box.

The ‘87% slowdown’ figure was also arrived at by the Enex test and describes the performance of the filter scheme that most correctly identified material to filter- yet even that filter would be easily circumventable.

The nut is that the filter would be ineffective, in any iteration. Filtering at the ISP level won’t stop children from accessing age-inappropriate material. Joe Hockey correctly observed that claiming the ineffective filtering regime would prevent children from accessing inappropriate material would deceive parents into thinking that children were actually insulated from net nasties, when this is demonstrably false.

Comparing the proposed- and now quite dead- internet filter to similar censorship regimes in totalitarian countries is not a conspiracy theory- it’s a wholly valid comparison. Conroy was asking for a filter that was based upon a secret, unappealable blacklist. Only in totalitarian nations is secret evidence, lack of transparency and lack of governmental accountability to the people considered normal. If that’s the sort of government Jim Wallace and the ACL find desirable, there’s nations in this world where they can get it- like China, Iran, North Korea and so on.

“1/70th of the blink of an eye” is not a scientific measurement. What is the SI standard measurement for an eye blink? This is the silliest excuse for evidence I have yet to see in the entire debate.

So, opposition to filtering is ‘well-funded?’ Really? By whom? Your evidence, please, Mr Wallace? Or is this just a conspiracy theory to explain that the Australian people, en masse, don’t want censorship?

Parents are indeed best placed to supervise and moderate their children’s internet use- not ISPs, not governments and DEFINITELY NOT the Australian Christian Lobby.

It’s indeed dead, Jim- and the ACL have cemented themselves to their irrelevancy. Will Labor choose to wear that cement overcoat going into the 21 August election?


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