Posts Tagged ‘Censorship’

Net Censorship: Liberal Ineptness Example #8163

March 28, 2009

There is little that annoys me more than the chronic ineptness of those on our side of politics. Yet the Liberal Party response to the Great Firewall of Australia must surely rank as a prime candidate for ineptness in its chronic failure to capitalise on a salient political issue, engage in the battle of ideas, and ultimately win votes.

To their credit, and particularly due to the conservative wing of the party staring down the “moderates”, the Federal Parliamentary Wing of the Liberal Party has eventually come out as staunchly against Labor’s internet censorship plans. This is obviously a good thing – not only is it unworkable, not only will it slow down the internet and impose additional costs on consumers and business, but it is a direct attack on free speech and on family values by denigrating the ability of parents to control what their children view.

Having said that, the Liberal’s public response to this has been nothing short of pathetic. Here we have a prime opportunity to engage with the key youth demographic, to begin using web 2.0 strategies to generate true constituent conversation, and to win votes with people who wouldn’t normally associate with us, and what have we done? Nothing.

In fact, I remember discussing this over 6 months ago – just as this was becoming an issue – with a key adviser to a Shadow Minister with interests in this area. Their response? It wasn’t “newsworthy”.

This statement – more than any other – highlights to me how out of touch the Liberal Party remains with new media. More and more people no longer rely on traditional mainstream media for their news. Rather, they rely on online filters made up of their friends – who they friend on facebook, follow on twitter, whose blogs they read. Yet it would seem the Liberals can not understand this.

Stuck in a 1990’s mindset, the Liberal Party has made no effort whatsoever to engage with the online community. None. Yet this is a perfect opportunity to do so. In fact, I can think of no better opportunity. Yet it is one that has been wasted. To use an analogy, if the LP was a corporation, this would surely count as a breach of the management’s fiduciary obligations. It is certainly abysmally poor campaigning.

When will the Liberal Party realise it needs to engage in with issues like this? To start interacting more with younger voters? To actually move to the 21st century?

Sigh. I worry about the future. I really do.

Update: Why on earth did the Libs put Greg Hunt on Q&A against Conroy? The guy is a joke.

Update 2: Sorry. I meant disgrace. Not joke.

The Correlation Between Internet Porn & Sexual Assault

February 25, 2009

In the midst of all the hooplah generated by Commissar Conroy’s Communist Censorship Crusade, I thought it useful to remind people of the scientific data which has examined the relationship between online access and pornography viewing, and instances of sexual assault.

The data seems fairly unambiguous: after controlling for all external factors, a 10 percent increase in Net access yields about a 7.3 percent decrease in reported cases of sexual assault. No other category of crime experienced similar decreases, the logical conclusion being how porn might serve as a substitute for rape.

So. There you have it.

Via Reason who also note that “Just about every social indicator that one might anticipate being affected by the mainstreaming of porn (divorce and abortion rates, sex crimes, sex crimes against children, teen pregnancy, etc.) has for about 15 years generally been moving in a positive direction. That of course would be the very period during which pornography became widely available on the Internet.”

Clive Hamilton & Johnny Normal – A Twisted Tale of Sex and Malice

February 17, 2009

Since Clive Hamilton has decided to base opinion pieces on pure fiction, I came across this attempt to do respond in kind. It begins:

“Little Johnny Normal came home from school. His parents were both out.

Johnny glanced at The Australian newspaper, which was lying on the kitchen table. He wanted to check what was on TV.

The newspaper was open at a page with a headline: ‘Web doesn’t belong to net libertarians’. Johnny didn’t know what libertarians are, but thought they might play netball. He started reading.

Johnny had heard of ‘sex pictures’ before. “Maybe this isn’t about sport”, he thought. He carried on reading…

By the time Johnny got to the third paragraph, he was seeing words he’d never heard before. He was quite interested. It seemed to be a story about a boy, just like him, looking up words that had something to do with sex. A flush of pre-adolescent sexuality came over him. Little Johnny was fascinated.

Just then, Johnny’s mum came home from work. Johnny ran to give her a hug. While she made toast, little Johnny asked his mum about the funny article in the newspaper. “What does ‘dildo’ mean?” he asked.”

You can read the rest here.

Clive Hamilton Reveals Real Reasons for Net Censorship

February 16, 2009

Generally when you hear tripe in Australian political discourse being pushed by a self-styled think-tank, you roll your eyes and just know it has to be from the Australia Institute (a euphemism for what should more accurately be called “Clive Hamilton’s Soapbox for Deranged Ramblings”).

His recent column on Kevin Rudd’s proposed internet censorship plan however is worth noting for the reason that his concluding sentence encapsulates everything the left fear about the internet, and the real rational behind their push to censor it.

So, let us ignore the just ludicrously bad first half the the article (Hypothetical boy looks for porn. Hypothetical boy finds porn. Shock! Horror!), and the factual errors about the opposition to the clean feed campaign (all just standard Hamilton drivel) and focus on the really telling line:

” The internet does not belong to the net libertarians, who seem to believe they inhabit a cyber-nation that is beyond normal forms of social regulation. The net belongs to all of us and, like other forms of communication, is subject to our collective decisions”

This says it all.  This really says it all.

The internet is currently outside the purview of the State. It epitomizes individual freedom and free exchange of ideas. It challenges traditional conceptions of power. By its very nature it is a dialogue, and one which rejects the top-down models of authority so many on the left wish to impose on society. Whilst not quite a model for a utopian libertarian future, its transformative power to empower individuals at the expense of the State is doubtless. And this scares the left shitless.

I’m not talking by the way about your happy-go-lucky free-love hippy green left. Most of them are just confused libertarians. What I am referring to is the hardcore ideological movement encompassing a large part of the left-wing political elite who genuinely still believe that at top-down government controlled model of government is the best way forward. One which totally rejects individualism, and embraces the coercive power of the state. The unreconstructed Marxist of yesteryear under a different name. Clive Hamilton is the epitome of this.

Earlier in the article Clive says:

“Fortunately, we do not live in the type of society favoured by organisations like Electronic Frontiers Australia. We live in a democracy where citizens ask their governments to impose restrictions on certain types of content that are regarded as harmful to individuals or to the community more broadly”

It would almost be comical to hear someone say “Oh please Mr. Big Government, save us from scary and harmful knowledge! We don’t know what’s good for us! We need you because you’re oh so-knowledgable and wise and good” in 2008. Comical, that is, if Clive wasn’t deadly serious.

It is unfortunate that there still exists a large group of people who have so little faith in Australians that they believe that our thoughts and actions must be dictated by on-high. It is sickening, but fortunately, it is the way of the past.

Freedom is on the march, and shall not be thrwarted despite the best efforts of Clive Hamilton and his repulsive ilk. Those who cling to outdated ideologies and oppose it shall be consigned to the dustbin of history where they belong.

Update: Somebody Think of the Children provides this list of  “You know your argument for filtering falls flat on its face when...”

Update 2: Best Twitter responses so far –  “@NewtonMark I can’t help thinking that Clive’s article was semi-autobiographical”, “ @danupoyner Dudes, do you think maybe Clive Hamilton was making a point about standards in his piece by not having any?” and “@andrewkemp86 One day The Australia Insitute will advocate the banning of humans having sex. It will solve all of Clive’s problems.”

Censorship Trial Announced

February 12, 2009

One can only wonder about the level of malicious Machiavellian malevolence within the Kevin Rudd government. As Australia mourned the loss of the bushfire victims, the government seized the opportunity,  firstly with its radical ideological attack on students, and quickly following with the announcement of a that it has found six internet service providers to collaborate with its Great Firewall of Australia internet censorship trial.

The fact that six ISP’s would prostitute themselves for such a plan would be worrying somewhat, until we realize that, well, no-one has actually heard of any of them! The DocNetwork provides a brief, yet incredibly amusing, rundown on the six culprits. It ends with the following:

While I am seething over this madness, I have found something to laugh about in all this, it was a comment made by Conroy about the companies participating in the trial, that they: “Will be recognized for their participation in the Pilot. This recognition will strengthen their brand image with the community.”… Mr. Conroy, while I do agree with you that this will do something about their brand image with the community, I don’t think strengthen would be the word I would use, words I would use would be ridicule, destroy, humiliate, though that’s just the opinion of me, Telstra, iiNet, Optus…most of Australia, but hey what do we know?

If you’re opposed to this breach of our individual rights, don’t just sign a petition. Contact one of the Liberal MP’s who have publically condemned this like Alex Hawke (NSW),  Nick Minchin (SA) or Cory Bernadi (SA) and see how you can get involved in the campaign to protect our freedoms.

Update: Alex Hawke’s Twitter account status currently is “Working to defeat Conroy’s censorship plan in Parliament #nocleanfeed” yay! 🙂

Online Classical Art to be Censored?

February 10, 2009

CBN News Reports:

When it comes to cracking down on Internet pornography, it seems that anything even remotely questionable is safe, not even works by Michelangelo or Titian. After shutting down 1,635 websites and 217 blogs in the first month of its Internet crackdown, Chinese censors have expanded their anti-vulgarity campaign to include great works of art.

Apparently works censored include:
* The Expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden by Masaccio
* Sleeping Venus by Giorgione
* Venus of Urbino by Titian
* Susanna and the Elders by Tintoretto
* Adam and Eve by Durer

Don’t think it can’t happen in Australia under Commissar Conroy.

Still, it wasn’t all bad:

Within 36 hours, more than two thousand bloggers had launched their own anti-anti-vulgarity campaign, creating more than 300,000 images of modified works of art. David is now more sensibly dressed in a Mao suit, and Adam has socks and a tie to give him a little more covering.

(thanks to Eileen Mahony for the link)

As Australia Burns, Conroy Celebrates Internet Censorship

February 9, 2009

I was forwarded the following note on Facebook; author unknown:

“As 130 people died slowly, and painfully in the worst bush-fires in Australia’s history; as friends and family try to put the pieces together; with 200 people dead or missing, Stephen Conroy plans to celebrate “Australia participates in Safer Internet Day 2009″ (scheduled for tomorrow, Tuesday the 10th of February).


As Victoria burns, it reads “young people around Australia will participate activities promoting responsible internet use during Safer Internet Day 2009.”

Seems to me that Conroy should take a page out of his own book and practice some of his own responsible internet usage.

No bushfire could stand in the way of this man and a good press release – not even a national tragedy worse than Ash Wednesday, not even the suffering of thousands of homeless Australians – the injured, parents without children, children without parents, families without homes.

Though I suppose it’s no surprise – maybe he was napping when the news about the death toll hit – (Conroy was caught napping as the Senate debated his legislation relating to the planned digital television switchover.)”

The twittesphere suggests that the $44 million on Conroy’s plans to create the most draconian censorship regime in the western world be censorship be scrapped, with the money given to bushfire survives.

FakeStephenConroy notes though that next year every day will be safe internet day. What, with almost no internet and all.

Young Liberal Movement & Internet Censorship

January 24, 2009

Perusing through the policies proposed at the current Federal Young Liberal Convention, I have to note how generally impressed I am with the commitment almost all of them show to true Liberal values & freedom.

I am particularly pleased though –  considering how topical it is – with the strong opposition to Internet censorship in the motions submitted. As many of you would know, the Australian Liberal Students’ Federation voted unanimously  to oppose all forms of internet censorship, and now it looks like the YL’s are set to do the same:

28. (NSW) The Young Liberal Movement of Australia rejects compulsory censorship of the Internet as an unnecessary curtailment of freedom of speech and as unwarranted government intrusion, and suggests that parental responsibility and monitoring is a far superior way of protecting children.

30. (Tasmania & WA) The Young Liberal Movement opposes all forms of compulsory Internet censorship.

Great Motions!

Unfortunately though, it seems that these will not be unanimous. The following motion also appears on the Agenda:

29. The Young Liberal Movement of Australia calls upon the Federal Opposition to:

A) Propose that consistent censorship restrictions be applied and enforced across all forms of pornographic media;
B) Require pornographic websites to apply for, and display, an age censorship classification rating and registration number from the Office of Film and Literature Classification, consistent with obligations for publishers of pornographic magazines and movies, irrespective of their country of origin.
C) Investigate the feasibility of applying age verification procedures currently in widespread use throughout the internet gambling industry.
D) Create a “white list” of registered websites that comply with the age and legal content restrictions of the current Australian X18+ classification.
E) Prohibit Australian users from accessing illegal pornographic websites not on this list and impose penalties for doing so.
F) Create a publicly-searchable database of all Australian offenders caught accessing any form of illegal pornography.
G) Investigate the feasibility of using internet filtration technology to block illegal pornography from being accessed in Australia

I am rarely at a loss for words, but the astoundingly mind-numbing stupidity of such a motion just leaves me speechless. It would be laughable if it wasn’t so bad.

The state from which this motion is proposed is not listed, no doubt out of embarrassment, but I certainly can’t see  something so blatantly ridiculous  being proposed by the ACT or SA, and can only assume that it was written by an intellectually retarded yokel from the middle of the bush whose understanding of technology
results in bafflement at the functions of a simile calculator.

The arguments against censorship pornography generally are well known – free speech, parental responsibility and so on – so I won’t  repeat them here. Instead I’ll just briefly comment on the practicalities of this proposal.

The Australian Government – which has NO – i repeat – NO jurisdiction over foreign web pages is to require them to display age censorship ratings? And get a registration number?  There is – obviously – no way this is enforceable other than with the adoption of a ‘clean-feed’ – and then, the bureaucratic nightmare is… my God… how do you
even begin to get into this? Words fail me to explain adequately the magnitude of the impossibility of this task. How do you describe what ‘pornographic’ is? Should things that are rated M or MA or R as movies be included?
Are we to expect millions and millions of websites to have to submit? Why stop there? With this logic should ALL websites accessible in Australia be later required to get rankings?

Is the government really going to spend resources having teams of people checking the – again – millions of pornographic websites out there and busily putting the names of those who aren’t ‘registered’ on a blacklist? This plan will certainly have one positive effect – it will completly eliminate Australia’s unemployment problem as  anyone currently unemployed would have to join this mammoth governmental department!

This is… I mean… this is mindboggling.

And point F? A publicly searchable database of people looking up porn? Bearining in mind that things that are prohibited content is not  illegal content in that it is child-abuse etc. The definition is CONSIDERABLY more broad than that. Obviously many forms of hardcore porn involve consentual adults, yet are illegal. You would put everyone who accesses this on a national pervert database??? The mind boggles! Are we to have teams of secret police enforcing this? Maybe establish a ‘dob in your neighbour’ taskforce?’

In any event, prohibited content is not limited to pornography (note that under CURRENT guidelines the pro-life website would be considered prohibited content due to the photos of aborted fetuses).

This proposal is impractical, immoral and ridiculous. Whoever the moron who proposed it deserves nothing less than to be laughed out of the conference in abject humiliation (and get some form of counselling for his/her porn-obsession).

UPDATE: I have been informed that this ridiculous notion was unanimously voted down. I’m unsure why observers got to move this motion, or speak on it, but thankfully freedom triumphed. Even better, I’m informed motions 28 and 30 were passed with only one dissenter, which wasn’t of that serious a nature anyway.

Freedom triumphs!

Australian Government to Censor Pro-Life Website

January 23, 2009

As I have long argued, we are starting to see proof emerge that the Australian Government’s attempt to censor the internet under the guise of ‘think of the children’ will rapidly degenerate into attacks on freedom of expression and dissenting views.

I was recently forwarded this article from Crikey‘s newsletter. It lays out how a pro-life website has just been added to the secret ‘prohibited content’ list already in play, and how if this legislation will be passed, this website will be censored out of existence in Australia. The article seems to check out, and, if true, is a very, very worrying portent of things to come.

You should be able to read the article free at Crikey, I can’t seem to access it at the moment, so for now I shall quote it in full.

“Freedom of speech is fundamentally important in a democratic society and there has never been any suggestion that the Australian Government would seek to block political content,” intoned Senator Stephen Conroy on Tuesday.

Yet the very next day, ACMA added a page from what’s arguably a political website to its secret blacklist of Internet nasties.


Senator Minchin Smacksdown Stephen Conroy

January 22, 2009

Senator Minchin had a great op-ed about Rudd’s plans to slow down our internet and institute Orwellian Regulatory Standards in today’s Sydney Morning Herald:

Big Brother Internet Filter Plan Insults Parents

Underlying the Rudd Government’s plan to screen the internet is an offensive message: that parents cannot be trusted to mind their children online.

Adult supervision should be front and centre of the effort to improve online safety, a responsibility accepted by most parents, grandparents, teachers and carers. But the Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, seems to think differently: filtering content at internet service provider level is “central to the Government’s plan to make the internet a safer place for children”.

No decent Australian would argue against the broad aim of making the online world as safe as possible. But Labor’s fixation with compulsory, centralised filtering – which tells parents they are incapable of protecting their children – is not the answer.

He also notes that “Senator Conroy has remained cryptic and vague, raising suspicion by talking about filtering not just illegal material, but also “unwanted” content that he refuses to specify.”