The past 6 months started out as looking like yet another elected Communications Minister of our great island nation was simply out of touch with his portfolio. However things have started to take a sinister turn with the recent direction our elected leaders have started to take in relation to how we consume the internet in Australia – and i honestly believe they think they are making the right move. This is BAD.
CAVEAT: THIS IS A POLITICAL OPINION POST AND IS PROBABLY GOING TO BORE YOU, YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED
There’s no place like home
Living in Australia has so many benefits that just thinking about them in comparison to most places of the world I've visited makes my head hurt. Dorothy couldn’t have said it better herself.
We are a country of convicts that has blossomed into a roaring Western Country that rubs shoulders with the big boys. Because of this we like to take the things that we think are the best parts of other countries and copy them. Sometimes however, wanting to take tips from other countries can lead down a dangerous path. None so dangerous as the beginnings of a regime that, in the steps to becoming a nanny state, take away a lot of the Australian civil liberties that make it a great country.
We have free speech, great socialised health care that would make any un-educated conservative American hate us, a booming IT and science sector, and some of the greatest natural deposits of [mineral deposit name here] ripe for plundering (where are you captain planet?).
So what am i on about?
Idiot IT Move 1 – Save Teh Intarnetses from de evils
It all began with a policy to “save the children”. If you aren’t an Australian reader you’ll have no idea what i am referring to so I'll elaborate.
Starting in 2008, the Australian Labor government set about implementing an Mandatory Internet Filter that would compulsorily block access to sites that the government refers to as “un-rated” material. It explained this as basically being child pornography. This goal alone sounds not so bad until you realise that it applies to a hell of a lot of areas of grey than can’t straight away be inferred from the original statement:
- X-rated pornography (we only get R in Australia unless you live in the government state of Canberra)
- Fetishes & Gay & Lesbian pornography
- Drug use (think harm minimisation sites)
All while actually achieving nothing – The attempted goal of blocking child pornography will continue unabated, as child pornographers don’t simply setup websites and host galleries. The actual thought that someone who is meant to manage technology in this country would actual think that running a glorified http proxy server could achieve this is beyond amazing.
Quite simply – he’s an idiot luddite, like many before him.
The scary thing is the fact that although a number of page 80 stories have run in the papers about this, it doesn’t seem to be a big issue in the news or in general politics. God help us, the policy may actually make it off the ground
Idiot IT move 2 – Record what LOLCATS you look at
If the above wasn’t scary enough, as of last week, the Australian government has now set out to record all the URL’s you visit.
So if you ever looked at a porn site, or checked out GOATSE or 2 girls one cup, it would be store for 10 years on a government managed server.
Who knows what scenarios happen next. Maybe you’ll run for a seat in parliament only for it to come out “from a secret source” that your a closet porno deviant. Maybe you’ll be in court defending a case against yourself, only for the court to subpoena a bit of your web history that, out of context, makes you look like a certain type of person.
The fact that you surf the internet in the privacy of your home, makes certain pieces of information in relation to that use private without any further proof needed. The Government has no right to see what happens in your bedroom OR your study. If the government started recording your phone conversations you would have a problem (think all those Google search URL GET requests with ?q=my search term in them)
When will i wake up from this bad dream?
I feel like a lot of this is similar to the recording industries treatment of music pirates. The RIAA spent so long, and so much money trying to catch people downloading MP3’s, that they missed out on a huge opportunity to engage their customers and take advantage of the new market.
The Australian government is doing just this. They are spending so much time trying to apply old practices to a new medium, that they are missing out on taking the lead on how this should be done right globally. This is nowhere near as blindingly clear as when Stephen Conroy talks about the internet filter he wants to be implimented:
…This is material that includes child sexual abuse material, bestiality, sexual violence including rape, instruction in crime and terrorist acts…
Yes, it does include, these things, but is no limited to them by any means – do you think we are that stupid?
Savings the children (and puppy dogs and any other heart wrenching thing) is a great idea. But at what cost?
…You can't get it in a library today, you can't buy it in a newsagency, you can't get it on DVD and you certainly can't see it at the cinema or on your TV…
Is Stephen Conroy so naive that he shoe-horns the internet into the same medium as a library or DVD?
One huge difference between these mediums and the internet that i haven’t seen raised is the fact that the internet is a PULL medium. You have to REQUEST a URL to view it. This means:
- You know what you’re requesting is there and it’s address
- You want to view it
The reason porno isn’t on display in a library or a newsagent is because these mediums are PUSHING content at you. It is the equivalent of saying “Here is what we have, are you interested?”
Additionally a DVD is a private viewing medium (for the privacy of your own home) and a cinema is a public viewing medium. So none of these are relevant. Again – idiot.
How about we just use the example that a post on GameSpot mentioned – it seems more relevant.
There’s a storm brewing
Why not take the global lead on this? Show the rest of the world new thinking on this problem (child pornography)? Why not lead us instead of sitting still and baby sitting us?
I know that if the Australian Government doesn’t then teh peoplez of de intarwebs will revolt and all we will have is wasted time and money. No solutions.