Speed Limits

Posted in #openinternet by skepdadblog on February 13, 2010
Tags: , ,

A very quick post before bed.  Conroy in his recent interview with Hungry Beast compared the internet filter to laws against speeding and underage drinking.  I’ll insert a direct quote soon for the sake of objectivity, but in essence it appeared a reasonable comparison at first glance.  After all, it makes sense right?  The law says you can’t speed, and that law is enforced by the police, so why not enforce the law against objectionable material on the internet?

The problem, as with many of Conroy’s arguments, is that it is non sequitur.  Yes, there are laws against speeding, and certain internet material is illegal too.  Yes, if you are caught with illegal internet content, you will be prosecuted just as you would be if you were caught breaking the speed limit.  That is the case today, and rightfully so.

But a net filter is not a law, and it is not enforcement of a law.  It is a physical restraint to prevent you inadvertently or deliberately being able to break the law or a moral judgement of “what should be law”.  The real equivalent is if every motor vehicle in Australia were retrofitted with an irremovable physical device to prevent speeding.

See the difference?

Furthermore Conroy is, as always, disingenuous in his connection of RC material with illegal material.  Many Australians (no doubt to Conroy’s delight) are unaware that RC and illegal are not the same thing.  Much RC content is perfectly legal to own and to view in most Australian states.  RC is a moral classification to inhibit the sale or public performance of material determined by ACMA as having some quality that prevented it being rated R (or in the case of computer entertainment, MA) or lower.

Furthermore it is complaints-based, so a corollary to speeding is now as if, despite the legal speed limit in your street being 50km/h, your mandatory physical speed limiter restricts you to 30km/h because Mrs Mangles next door complained about objectionable noise.  Note that this means noise at a level objectionable to her, not noise exceeding legal levels.

See what Conroy did there?  Yeah.


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