Nov
15
2008

Australian Internet Filter – Big Brother Is Coming…

I don’t know where to start really… Growing up and living in Australia I have always felt like I was a free citizen and that as long as I brought no harm to others I would be able to live my life in any manner that I wanted. Recently, I have had that feeling of freedom taken away and it has been replaced by a deep sense of fear and angst about the future. The internet is the ultimate show-piece of personal liberty and freedom and anyone with unrestricted access is free to communicate, learn and all the other great things the internet brings to our lives.

In the lead up to the Beijing Olympics there were numerous media stories about the Chinese government’s restrictions of the internet and everyone was appalled. Well now ladies and gentleman, we are headed down that very path ourselves. The Australian Labour Party through Communications Minister, Senator Conroy, has introduced a policy of filtering Australian Internet. It is going to cost the Australian tax-payer $125.8m and aim to block content deemed inappropriate for children and block illegal material. There was originally going to be an ‘opt-out’ clause, but it now appears that citizens will have a choice between extreme and standard filtering.

My belief is that the role of government should be to enforce contracts through courts and to provide a small amount of national defence and citizen protection. They certainly should not have any reason to interfere with the lives of citizens unless they are doing something that is having an adverse affect on others. Despite how big or small you think Federal government should be, I think most people would agree that the they have absolutely no reason to be monitoring what you do in your own home without hurting anyone else.

There are many clear arguments for why this is a terrible idea. Not only is it a slap in the face to freedom and an insult to the basic human right of free choice, but it is a massive waste of tax-payer money. A way around the filter will be found in no-time, so millions of dollars are going down the drain on something that isn’t even going to be effective in stopping paedophiles accessing child-pornography. The last attempt at a government internet filter was cracked by a 15 year-old so there is also no telling that this is going to stop those under age accessing adult content. Nonetheless, it should be the responsibility of parents to monitor their kids internet use, not the government. There is nothing stopping parents who want their internet toned down from going into the market place and purchasing their own filter.

Additionally, now that the wheels of government censorship are turning there is no telling what they might try and place restrictions on next. It starts with a few internet sites that must be protected from children’s eyes and it ends with the government enforcing its own moral code by blocking anything that they deem inappropriate.

Another point against government imposed sanctions on the internet is that it will create slower speeds and more expensive services. Wasn’t one of the big issues at the last election Australia’s horrible broadband speeds and services? Now we want to make it even worse? Great idea.

That fact that the whole notion of government imposed internet controls is bordering on becoming a reality is a reflection of the sad state of affairs that we have where the Federal governement is far too big and powerful for its own good. When either major party is in office they fall in love with the power bestowed upon them and seek to innrease that power by creating more influence of private people’s lives. This is really the opposite of what we should be doing, we should be bestowing more power on our citizens to make their own choices and enjoy more freedom.

The left side of politics is intent on creating a nanny state where they aim to protect their citizens by preventing them from participating in innocent activities, just in case they somehow bring harm to themselves in the process. The right side of politics seems set on imposing its moralistic views on society. So it seems that if you want freedom and liberty there is absolutely nowhere to turn, both major parties have now in some form tried to pass policy to filter the internet.

Potential Ban of Online Gambling Sites
As if it weren’t bad enough, I am told that the filter could include online gambling sites (potentially including poker). I find it absolutely hilarious that government can take so much of its revenue from gambling tax, but suddenly when people are doing their gambling off-shore they oppose it on a moral or social level. Equally as hypocritical is that they talk about freer trade and a globalised economy, but suddenly when their citizens gamble on the internet they want to oppose that.

From what I have been reading, Senator Nick Xenophon seems to be the one championing the idea of blocking gambling sites. This guy is a noted anti-poker machine advocate and seems to want to enforce his moral position on gambling on everyone. If he somehow does get his way, there is going to be a massive outrage and movement amongst general population. I don’t think politicians realise how many people’s internet usage will be affected by such a policy.

Most of what I have written here is doom and gloom, but I am actually hopeful that there is one good thing to come out of all this. With the rights and freedoms of individuals on the itnernet under attack, the public might actually start to realise that the governement has too much control in their lives. The Libertarian movement in Australia can only become stronger out of all this.

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About the Author: Andrew Ferguson

4 Comments + Add Comment

  • dude ive been talking about this for the past 2 months, the only people who are taking this seriously are the Green party, who are questioning Conroy.

    I actually Joined the Greens because of this, and I am ashamed that I voted for Labor last election.

  • yeah this shit is fucked up hope it doesnt happen :)

  • Ughhhhhhhhhhh Australia was a back up! Ship it Obama one time please

  • This is a crock of shit I can’t believe they are doing this.

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