The political activists who helped free David Hicks and abolish Work Choices have now set their sights on the Government’s plan to censor the internet, which is already facing a major backlash and a lack of political support. (CensorFree and CLA are partners with GetUp and others in the campaign).
Activists target Rudd’s net censorship plans
The political activists who helped free David Hicks and abolish Work Choices have now set their sights on the Government’s plan to censor the internet, which is already facing a major backlash and a lack of political support.
GetUp says it plans to run mainstream ads and offline action that will be as elaborate as its free Hicks campaign. In just a day, a petition on its website has attracted over 22,000 signatures; GetUp said it had received more emails urging them to act on this issue than "any other campaign in recent history".
Both the Opposition and the Greens this week officially announced their opposition to the internet filtering plan, which critics like GetUp fear will slow the internet to a crawl and open the door to censorship of other material such as regular pornography, political views, pro-abortion sites and online gambling.
They join a chorus of dissent from internet providers, consumers, engineers, network administrators and online rights activists. Michael Malone, the managing director of iiNet, labelled the Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, "the worst we’ve had in the 15 years since the [internet] industry has existed".
Despite the significant opposition, the Government is pressing ahead with live filtering trials, which it wants to launch by December 24. ISPs, which already offer free filters but on a voluntary basis, are reluctant to take part but fear they have no other way of showing the Government the deep flaws in its mandatory censorship plan.
"We’re very, very concerned that there’s going to be a unnecessary clamp down on the internet and it has to be watched," Greens leader Bob Brown told ABC Television on Tuesday.
The Opposition’s communications spokesman announced on the same day that the "misguided and deeply unpopular" filtering plan was causing Australia embarrassment internationally.
"The Opposition firmly believes that adult supervision, supported by optional user-end filters, effective law enforcement and education should be front and centre of any efforts to keep children safe online," Senator Nick Minchin said.
GetUp campaign director Ed Coper said he was certain his organisation’s "Save the Net" campaign would be "really big and ongoing".
"It’s certainly one of the most ill-thought-out decisions of the Rudd Government so far," he said.
Laboratory test results released in June by the Australian Communications and Media Authority found available filters frequently let through content that should be blocked, incorrectly block harmless content and slow network speeds by up to 87 per cent.
The Government plans to impose a mandatory filter for all internet users that will block sites found on the secret ACMA blacklist and blacklists held by other countries. But only half of ACMA’s list is child pornography, while the rest is mainly X-rated porn and sexual fetish material.
A second, optional filtering tier, which will also be tested in the trial, will block content deemed inappropriate for children.
But none of the filters will be capable of filtering non-web applications such as peer-to-peer file sharing programs. Furthermore, the filters can easily be evaded by those set on accessing child pornography, using freely available tools.
Aside from the Government, the only public supporters of the plan are vocal family and religious groups such as Child Wise, the Australian Family Association and the Australian Christian Lobby.
Senator Conroy has said Britain, Sweden, Canada, Norway, Denmark and New Zealand have all implemented similar filtering systems. However, in all cases, participation by ISPs was optional and the filtering was limited in scope to predominantly child pornography.
Senator Conroy’s spokesman, Tim Marshall, has consistently failed to respond to requests for comment on the issue.
This story was found at: http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2008/11/27/1227491695981.html