Stay the Course

Posted in #openinternet by skepdadblog on July 8, 2010
Tags: , , ,

Oh Julia, we had such high hopes for you.

Would you crawl out from under the ACL yoke that bound your predecessor, and send Conroy’s filter back to the confessional in which it was conceived?  Would you see the sense in keeping a tenuous grasp on the new media-savvy Gen X/Y/Z voters by sacking Conroy and installing Kate Lundy, who by all reports has a better grasp on the portfolio anyway?  Would you lend an ear to the serious democratic concerns raised by opponents of the filter?


For those of you as disappointed as myself in Gillard’s endorsement of the filter, my advice is this: stay the course.  It is not done, and it is not over.

Firstly the filter is back on the table as an election issue.  The real danger was that Labor would suppress any commentary on the filter until after the election, removing it from the minds and voting pencils of those opposed, and claim an implied mandate if they won.  That, it seems, won’t now happen.  Gillard has made her position clear, and I expect to see vocal debate on the filter as a genuine election issue.  This is a good thing for us, as informed debate is the enemy of Conroy’s misdirection and spin.

Let’s remind ourselves of the key reasons to oppose the filter:

  • False security.  The filter will lead to an increase in children being exposed to undesirable content on the internet, because un- or mis-educated parents will view the filter as a safety net and supervise their children less online.
  • Dangers from workarounds.  Many people, particularly young folk, will circumvent the filter as a matter of principle.  Many of the circumvention solutions involve using third-party proxies or VPN solutions, which are not all to be trusted.  Fraud, and potentially child abuse, will increase as kids fall for these dodgy workarounds.
  • Censorship.  The “secret” blacklist already contains URLs which are not related to RC content, despite Conroy’s claims that the filter is intended to only filter RC URLs.  Furthermore, the scope of RC can be expanded by future governments to encompass anything they find undesirable.  The filter hands future goverments carte blanche to impose their (or any effective lobby group’s) morality on the Australian public.  Also, as the list is complaints-based, anyone can request that any URL be added to it.  This will certainly not be abused in any way.
  • Secrecy.  In all other media, the list of banned material is publicly available.  Conroy’s excuse for keeping the internet blacklist secret is that people would then have a link to go and look at it.  But how could they look at it if it was blocked by the filter?  Knowing the name of a banned book (e.g. the Peaceful Pill Handbook) allows me to go to an online international bookseller, legally order it, legally import it and legally possess and read it.  How is that different?
  • Child protection.  The filter does not in any way help protect children from online predators, nor does it in any way help to catch purveyors or creators of child abuse content.  if anything, the budget diverted to this entirely useless filter takes money away from policing, which is effective at catching these criminals.  Child protection groups like Save The Children are opposed to the filter.
  • Misdirection and lies.  Conroy continues to brand anti-filter as equivalent to pro-child abuse or pro-porn.  He continues to “consult” only with organisations that are pro-filter.   He continues to deliberately confuse “RC” with “illegal”.  He continues to talk up the illegal content that falls under RC, without ever mentioning the perfectly legal content that also falls under RC.  He continues to spread misdirection about “cinemas and newsagents”, ignoring the legitimate issues with his proposal.  He continues to abuse parliamentary privilege to attack informed, considered opposition.  He continues to mislead you, the Australian people.  He wants his proposal in, and he doesn’t want the truth standing in the way.
  • Ulterior motive.  Gillard has a confidence problem with the ACL and christians in general, having come out about her atheism.  The filter is a ploy to get their votes back.  Furthermore, given the Labor minority in the Senate, they need the support of Family First Senator Steve Fielding.  Fielding has had a key hand in the drafting of the filtering proposal.  It’s about votes, not about protecting kids.

Get the word out.  Don’t vote for this filter.

“The State must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people. As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation.”
– Adolf Hitler, “Mein Kampf”


Lies, damned lies and Conroy

Posted in #openinternet by skepdadblog on April 8, 2010
Tags: , , ,

It is a colorless and odorless chemical compound. Its basis is the highly reactive hydroxyl radical, a species shown to mutate DNA, denature proteins, disrupt cell membranes, and chemically alter critical neurotransmitters. The atomic components are found in a number of caustic, explosive and poisonous compounds such as Sulfuric Acid, Nitroglycerine and Ethyl Alcohol.

It is a constituent of many known toxic substances, diseases and disease-causing agents, environmental hazards and can be lethal to humans in quantities as small as a thimbleful.  In gaseous form, it can cause severe burns.

Each year, it is a known causative component in many thousands of deaths and is a major contributor to millions upon millions of dollars in damage to property and the environment.

86% of people surveyed support banning this substance, dihydrogen monoxide.  Do you?

Congratulations, you just banned water.  (With thanks to

And that, my friends, is the problem with polls.

The Punch has run a couple of articles on the blackwall in the past two days; the first from Conroy himself and the latest from the journalist/apologist/polemicist (I can’t decide which) Paul Colgan waggling his finger at the predictably incensed response to Conroy’s missive.

Colgan’s point is that the outrage of the blogosphere is counterproductive and unrepresentative of wider public opinion, as represented by polling.  I won’t argue with the first point, as some of the commentary was definitely out of order; but that’s what you get when you open the floor to the general public.  It’s a little naive to expect anything different.

The second point is argued in such an idiotic fashion as to make me wonder how this chap presumably earns a living as a “serious journalist”.  Polling can be designed to give any answer you’re looking for, the results being useful only in the precise context in which they’re asked.  Furthermore, as the H2O example above demonstrates (and has been experimentally verified) people can easily be influenced with the right choice of language.

Quoting Coglan’s piece:

“What the debate almost entirely failed to reflect was the overwhelming popularity of Conroy’s plan with the general public.  A recent poll put support for mandatory government filtering of child abuse material at 80 per cent.”

The actual poll result was this:

80% of people said they were in favour of “having a mandatory Government Internet filter that would automatically block all access in Australia, to overseas websites containing material that is Refused Classification”. Survey participants were first read a definition of ‘Refused Classification’ as follows:

Images and information about one or more of the following:

–    child sexual abuse
–    bestiality
–    sexual violence
–    gratuitous, exploitative or offensive sexual fetishes; and
–    detailed instructions on or promotion of crime, violence or use of illegal drugs

Where do I start.  Firstly, the above definition is not even close to a comprehensive definition of RC, nor does it go into how things are added to the list or who controls it.  It’s too detailed to repost here, but you can find out from this page at ACMA.  Suffice to say that the points above are the most alarmist of the many areas that RC touches, and thus to most likely to engender revulsion in a respondent.  Furthermore all these, with the possible exception of fetishes, are illegal but RC encompasses much which is totally legal to possess and purchase.

Secondly: even if the respondents were fully aware of what RC encompassed, they were not asked if they supported “Conroy’s plan”.  They were asked if they “were in favour of having a mandatory Government Internet filter that would automatically block all access in Australia, to overseas websites containing … RC … material”.  Even if you accept that the respondents understood the full impact of those words, in the short time they had to absorb them,  Conroy’s plan is much wider reaching than just this.

The question that the respondents really had to deal with, given the cognitive processes involved with processing such complex aural information, would have been closer to this: “Should the Government block websites that have evil illegal stuff on them?” I’m surprised only 80% answered affirmatively.  But that’s not the same thing as supporting “Conroy’s plan” Mr Coglan.

For a journalist with such faith in polls, it’s surprising (or perhaps not, given the post’s blinkered tone) that Coglan didn’t reference the other results in the same poll.

Despite clear support for the filter, far fewer people (50%) were in favour of “a Government appointed body determining whether a website is appropriate for you to visit”.


an overwhelming 91% of people were in favour of “the community being advised which websites have been Refused Classification and the reason why they have been refused classification”.


70% of Australians are concerned that “future Governments could use Internet Filtering technology to restrict free speech or block other forms of website content they don’t approve of”.

and many more.   But we don’t talk about those polls, do we.  Run the same poll again, but put the first question last.  Different result?

Conroy states that he welcomes debate, but his actions say a very different thing.  Educated opposition is either downplayed (in the case of the US Government) or attacked (Google and EFA) in exactly the same histronic manner which Coglan bemoans.

There will be no debate, ignorance is Conroy’s ally in this issue.  When people and organisations learn the details, they oppose it.  The misdirection and half-truths will continue until it becomes an election issue, or until Rudd comes up with a diversion.

I will vote on this issue, and I know many others who will also.

Tony Abbott on #qanda

Posted in #atheism,#qanda by skepdadblog on April 6, 2010
Tags: , ,

I enjoyed seeing Tony Abbott mano a mano with the crowd last night on Q&A.  Aside from his frankly disturbing donkey laugh, he came across fairly knowledgeable, straightforward (almost to the point of gormlessness) and inoffensive.   I disagreed with him on gay marriage, nodded at his position on border protection and generally enjoyed the program.

My one major concern was his comment about the pope (paraphrased pending the transcript):

“I won’t criticise the Pope… he is my Pope…”

Now leaving aside the fact that the catholic pope is, as is increasingly evident, a criminal accessory to child rape; and leaving aside Chairman Rudd’s alleged closeted bible-thumping; how should I feel about a Prime Ministerial candidate who is subjugated to a foreign head of state?

According to 2006 census data, 74.2% of Australians do not recognise the catholic pope as their spiritual leader.  This is probably on the low side, as anecdotally many who categorise themselves RC on the census do not recognise the authority of the Vatican over their daily lives.

Should I be concerned that Tony holds his pope, who the majority of Australians do not recognise, above criticism?  In the case of a conflict of interest, where his country demanded (for example) cutting diplomatic ties with the Vatican over its crimes against humanity, would he do it?  Could he put the people of Australia before his pope?

If Abbott had said the same about Brown, Obama and Mugabe – “I will not criticise them, they are my mentors” – would we feel differently?  What about the British royal family?

To ask Abbott to embrace true secularism is probably a bit too much of a stretch, but as the Australian Prime Minister his loyalty must be to his country and to the people of Australia first.  His own faith, and deference to his spiritual leader, must be a very distant second.

deep thought Monday

Posted in #qanda by skepdadblog on March 15, 2010
Tags: ,

Monday in Australia: time for the majority of the serious “issue” programs on the ABC.  I was a bit slack today and only watched 2 episodes of #qanda; last week’s with Richard Dawkins (and some other people) and tonight’s with Miranda Devine, a couple of pollies, Waleed Aly and the first atheist I’ve ever thoroughly disliked, Catherine Deveny.

Waleed was his usual mix of insightful win and pointless academia; the token politicians the usual mouthpieces for party propaganda (though Bill Shorten was tolerably human), that ridiculous Deveny woman about as funny as syphilis, and Miranda… well.  Miranda.

I come across Miranda a lot, as my usual newspaper is the SMH.  I rarely agree with her.  Tonight, I felt a twinge of sympathy.  I paraphrase the question put to her on climate change:

Q: Miranda, you’re a climate change denier, how can you live with yourself?

A: Actually, I agree that the majority of credible scientific evidence supports climate change.  I don’t argue that the climate is changing.  However, I do wonder if the action that’s being proposed to counter it is poorly thought out.


I may not have got that exactly right, but that’s the gist of it. Again we see that climate change is a sacred cow that may not be questioned.  Is it not scientific, is it not skeptical, to ask for evidence that the proposed solutions will actually be effective, socially responsible on a global scale, and that the unintended consequences of those actions have been properly thought out?  Does this evidence exist?  I certainly haven’t seen any, and I would dearly love to be shown it.  It seems to me that we have collectively made the jump from “it’s happening” to “we must do something about it” to “we must do THIS” when we’ve only really just now established good evidence for the first part.

Waleed defined conservatism well; not nostalgia, not resistance to change; but as a preference for considered, measured and responsible change.  Conservatism: thy name is skepdad.

All you in the twitterverse that castigated me as a climate change denier: you call yourselves scientific?  Shame on you.  Point me to evidence that there has been serious thought given to the efficacy of the proposed solutions to climate change and their potential unintended consequences.  Stop using the perjorative “denier” to shut down debate about this issue.  The debate needs to be had, because we’re going down the path of knee-jerk policy to suit knee-jerk public opinion.


Posted in #atheism,#badreligion by skepdadblog on February 18, 2010
Tags: , , ,

I have a splendid pair of kids.  They’re happy, well balanced, sharp as tacks and perfect.  They also have no idea about religion.  Like I said: perfect.

My wife and I debated a lot about what sort of school the eldest, four, who started prep this year, should go to.  We evaluated all of the local options, including private religious schools, long and hard.  I was schooled entirely at private catholic schools, my wife at public state schools.  I’m a card-carrying atheist, leaning antitheist, she agnostic.  Spreadsheets were involved.  No, I’m not kidding.

In the end the local public state school won out.  It has an excellent reputation, but I’m not going to lie to you, internets – being nondenominational was a big factor in our choice.  However, we agreed that we wouldn’t exclude him from the optional religious education; partly because of our desire for him to fit in, but also because we both believe education about, rather than indoctrination in, religion is important to understanding it.

At the first parent information night, we sat listening and nodding as the very impressive principal and deputy told us about their vision.  It’s progressive, inclusive, compassionate and no-nonsense.  Until the deputy mentioned the school creed and prayer, we were sold.

Wait, what?

School prayer? We cornered the deputy afterwards and asked what she meant by that.  She replied that it was “just a little tradition” that the school followed.  Still not wanting our boy to be labelled the “poor child of the atheists” we let it be.  It was one fly in the ointment, but the ointment was good.

Cut to the first day of prep, as we sat with wee man in his new classroom.  His teacher spoke purposefully about her curriculum, the importance of parental involvement, allergies and pickup times and whshhhhwhshhhwshhhh what the hell is that in large print on the wall?

Our School Creed
This is our school
Let peace be here
Let the rooms be full of contentment
Let love abide here
Love of God
Love of mankind
Love of life itself
Let us remember
That as many hands make a house
So many hearts make a school.

I’m sitting in my son’s new classroom.  The place he will spend the next year.  And there it is – a word I believe he is not equipped to deal with yet.  The eyes slide right, and in equally large print, prominently on the wall near the drink bottle table:

Our School Prayer
We pray for your blessing Lord on the work we are doing today,
That we may do it well, both in school and out.
And may be good to each other and try to do well in all things.
Teach us to be honest, truthful, kind and obedient.
Through Christ our Lord.

In case you missed it earlier, I’ll remind you that this is a public state school.  It accommodates children with parents of christian, muslim, hindi, baha’i, and I presume many other faiths; as well as at least one set of parents with no religious beliefs.  Christian pledges of supernatural subservience are not what I expected to see on the walls of the classrooms; I was thinking more bunny rabbits and primary coloured alphabets.

I could barely contain myself.  As soon as I got home, I started researching secularism in my country, because it’s clearly not what I thought it was.   Australia’s constitution mandates a separation of church and state right?  Not according to Max Wallace. He makes a strong case.  A frightening one.  There is, if you follow his argument, no constitutional reason why my state cannot nominate the Anglican faith as the state religion.

Even then, we tried to chill.  We could deal with this.  We could wait for him to come home, drop his bag and ask “mummy, who’s Christ our Lord?” and handle it in the spirit of education.  He sees that prayer every time he gets thirsty, and he can read.

We weren’t, however, prepared for what he said last week when he came home, dropped his bag and engaged me in a conversation about dinosaurs.  He’s been crazy about dinosaurs ever since he was two, has met and impressed the staff paleontologist at the Queensland Museum and knows more about them than his mum and dad combined.  We’ve even talked about him podcasting about dinosaurs.  Then, this:

“Daddy, Mrs [teacher] says dinosaurs were never real, and their bones were put in the ground as a joke.”



The dagger in my heart, it burns.

Riding the Nepotism Train to Voteville

Posted in #openinternet,#skigate by skepdadblog on February 17, 2010
Tags: , , , ,

What has our favourite senator been up to lately?

Now I’m not saying that Conroy is corrupt – Tony Abbott says that far better than I could – but he’s certainly no stranger to “private meetings with stakeholders”.  Remember when Conroy privately briefed the Australian Christian Lobby – and only the ACL – on the results of the filtering trial before announcing the filter legislation?

I’m confused about this use of the term “stakeholders” too.  Stokes and the ACL clearly have a vested interest in the proposals.  But aren’t they the ones benefiting from them? If you decide you’re going to raid your dad’s wallet to take your girlfriend to dinner, should you consult your dad or your girlfriend?  Britney’s thinking about the delicious lobster.  Dad’s thinking about the mortgage.  As your hand closes around a couple of fifties, you’re thinking about the sweet lovin’ after dessert.  Britney’s a firecracker, but that don’t make it right.

Surely the Australian taxpayer is a more important stakeholder as we’re the ones actually footing the bill with our hard-earned battler dollars.  Where’s our private briefing?  Where’s our consultation?  As usual, we’re the suckers who do the work, pay the bills and watch while Conroy uses our money to buy a solid gold ticket on the nepotism train to Voteville.

Not my vote, Conroy.  Not my vote, Kevin.  How do you sleep at night?

A Simple Solution to the Censorship Filter

Posted in #openinternet by skepdadblog on February 16, 2010
Tags: , ,

Work with me here.

The federal government, possibly in partnership with Google, creates a national ISP as part of the NBN.  Google Tubes?

This ISP provides means-tested internet access to all Australians (residential only, or commercial too? I don’t know, what do you think?).  The lowest income earners pay nothing.  Everybody else pays market rates.

This internet connection is filtered however Conroy wants to.  But it is opt-out.

The people of Australia then have a choice.  If they so desire, they can have a Safe For Children (TM) internet connection at a fair price.  If they are an Aussie Battler (TM) they get free access to the world of education and self-actualisation that the internet provides.  Cue a ticker tape parade for the Labor government.

ISPs are spared the expense and trouble of implementing flawed mandatory filtering.  They may lose a bit of business to this new competitor, but the market rates for all but the most disadvantaged (and thus unlikely to pay for a commercial ISP) will limit churn to only those who want a filter.

The people of Australia are spared state censorship unless they really want it.

So, where are the holes in this brilliant and insightful plan?

Framing, Fencing and Well-Intentioned Morons

Posted in #openinternet,#operationtitstorm by skepdadblog on February 16, 2010
Tags: , , ,

I was delighted to read this post, which gave definitions to the thoughts I had been having about the way this filter campaign is being run by the Conroy side.  Framing and Fencing.  To carefully choose language in order to reinforce a meme, and to use that reinforced meme in order to discredit an opponent ad hominem.  It’s a great post, and references another very interesting post here.  While I’m pimping links, here’s another good one from geordieguy.

It comes down to this: most people have a fairly consistent idea of Stuff That Is Bad.  Let’s make a list.


  • Porn
  • Child abuse/exploitation
  • Drugs
  • Crime
  • Bestiality
  • Sexualised Violence
  • Pedophiles
  • Terrorists
  • Censorship
  • Illegal Stuff
  • Stuff That’s Banned
  • Waste of Public Funds
  • Weird Fetishes
  • Cronyism
  • Lobbyists
  • Kids Being Exposed To Bad Stuff
  • Government Secrecy
  • Hippies

You may disagree personally on one or more of these, but it’s important to understand that the majority of Australians agree with this list.  Denial won’t help us.  Toss away your soapbox and listen up.  How is Conroy framing his argument? Choose from the above list.


  • Blocking porn
  • Blocking child abuse/exploitation material
  • Blocking information about drugs
  • Blocking information about crime
  • Blocking bestiality material
  • Blocking sexualised violence
  • Blocking pedophiles
  • Blocking terrorists
  • Blocking information about illegal stuff
  • Blocking stuff that’s banned
  • Blocking weird fetish material
  • Preventing kids being exposed to bad stuff

Are these, or are they not, the core tenets of the pro-filter campaign?  Conroy plays directly to the Australian sense of stuff that is bad.  And fair enough – this stuff IS bad.  The pro- campaign is simply awash with noise about how bad stuff is bad and how the magic filter will block it and save our children.  Because of all the noise, there is simply no need to answer the following questions:

“Will the filter actually be effective at blocking all this bad stuff?”

“Will the filter and the campaign around it have any unintended bad side effects?”

Conroy also starts an undercurrent of other fallacies, such as the classic “the filter blocks bad stuff, therefore anyone opposed to the filter must like bad stuff, therefore anyone opposed to the filter is bad”.  He doesn’t tip his hand too much, as over-reaching here will damage his credibility.  Just enough to plant the seed.

So #nocleanfeed and #openinternet come along, and start to ask the important questions.  Unfortunately, #nocleanfeed is a poor meme.  We don’t want a clean feed.  We want a dirty internet.  We are dirty, and we like dirty things.  #openinternet is a much better meme.  We’re for openness.  People like openness.  We start getting heard, and reputable, influential, trustworthy folks start flocking to the cause.  Props to groups like EFA for running a mature and responsible campaign.

But then, along comes the Sex Party, and opposes the filter because they want unrestricted access to porn.  Great job guys.  Conroy must have wet himself with pleasure.  Porn is bad, remember?  You’ve just confirmed Conroy’s argument that people opposed to the filter are dirty and evil, therefore the filter is good.  Magnificent effort.

But even that gormless facepalm is nothing compared to the monumental fail that is #operationtitstorm.  I would be completely unsurprised if it turned out that Anonymous was simply a front for the Australian Christian Lobby, such was the public relations windfall their utterly moronic hack campaign gave the pro-filter argument.  Way to give the government the moral high ground guys.  Retards, please.

So now we have an uphill battle.  I contend that the only way we will have any success is if we use the same tactics as Conroy.  Facts don’t win PR wars, feelings and memes do.  We need to attack the bad stuff that Conroy doesn’t want raised:

  • Waste of Public Funds – the filter will be ineffective and take tens of millions of dollars away from effective measures to increase online safety.
  • Censorship – the filter is a censorship vehicle that can and will have its scope widened once it is made law.  Conroy doesn’t use the word censorship, because he’s afraid of that meme catching hold.
  • Government Secrecy – Conroy is unapologetic about the blacklist remaining secret.
  • Cronyism and Lobbyists – ACMA is not immune to political influence, and has carte blanche to rule out content based on a very wide definition of RC; and that is assuming that the definition of RC is not widened, which it will be.

On top of that, we need to address the unintended consequence argument.  Kids Being Exposed To Bad Stuff:

  • Government message that the net is safe = less adult supervision
  • Almost entirely ineffective filter (and Conroy has publicly admitted this) = unsafe net
  • less supervision + unsafe net = increased harm to kids

Incidentally, this is my primary opposition to the filter.  The only responsible thing for the government to do, if the filter is made law, is to immediately launch an information campaign educating Australia about how ineffective the filter is, and that the net is still unsafe and their kids are still at risk and must be supervised.  Joe Public will go “Whaaaa?  But you just said….???” but by then it will be too late.  Noticed that the “supervise your kids online because the net is dangerous” message is curiously quiet lately?

Many folks in the #openinternet movement are seeing Hungry Beast’s survey as a disaster.  I say it is disappointing, but there is plenty of gold under that rainbow.

  • 80% are in favour of a government filter that blocks RC content.  Unsurprising, as the filter blocks bad stuff.  However, that number can only go down as education about the true inefficacy and unintended side effects of the filter goes up.
  • Only 50% of respondents believe that the government or a government appointed body should decide what’s on that list.  Hit the cronyism, lobbyist and secrecy buttons to bring that number down.
  • 91% want transparency about what’s been blocked.  Can you say “secrecy is bad?”
  • 70% are concerned that the government will expand the content that is blocked after the filter is made law.  Censorship, censorship, big fat China Saudi Arabia Iran censorship.

People, these are the areas we must focus on.  This is what the country thinks is bad.  We are no different to Conroy in that we want bad stuff to be kept out of Australia; we just believe that the “cure” (or, more accurately, homeopathic remedy) is worse than the disease.

One final point on the media.  It occurs to me that the media magnates of the world have a vested interest in seeing the internet reigned in.  It siphons their stories, it puts their content into the hands of freeloaders, and it threatens to render all but the most talented journalists redundant.  Research, live vision and educated opinion are the only valuable old media assets now; they can’t any longer get away with simply re-hashing some “news” from AAP.  Is it so hard to believe that one reason #openinternet is getting so little press is because the media see a golden opportunity to shore up their old-school business model?

We in the new media world need to go beyond preaching to the converted.  You are your family’s computer guy or geek girl.  They trust you on matters tech.  Talk to them about the filter, about secrecy and lobbyists and censorship and increased harm to kids.  Then when it comes up at work, Rotary, the P&C or bowls, they’ll have an educated opinion and not just “porn bad filter good”.

Titstorm: you’re doing it wrong

Posted in #operationtitstorm by intratubes on February 16, 2010

Operation Titstorm, a co-ordinated attack on several Australian websites, including the Australian Parliament’s and Conroy’s site, in response to both the proposed filter and new levels of RC classification, is completely counter-productive and will only hurt the movement to have a free and uncensored net.

I fully understand that this may be one of very few methods that some younger people feel they can use to have their opinions and stance on this issue heard. But let me expand on that. This is not going to get the right message across, and will only belittle the reputation of those who are against the filter.

The news that these “hackers” attacking websites in protest has already reached the Australian voting public. But it reaches them as another story of why the Internet, in their eyes, needs regulation and control. And it will certainly provide a political springboard to garner further support and justification for this regulation and filtering.

This is reality. Any bonehead can point a connection at a web server and flood it with data, rendering it unusable. Titstorm will only provide support for the filter in the average Joe’s eyes, and will give the political arm another reason to push this ahead.

Many organisations opposing the filter have been quick to distance themselves from Titstorm, as they should. If you want to make a difference, talk to family and friends who are less tech-savvy, to those who don’t understand the issues, the voters.  You can tell them the real issue yourself and the reason for your argument against it, and why they should oppose it. Or you can point traffic at a web server and wait for them to see the “evil hacker” story on the evening news.

Your choice.

Why should non internet users care about the filter?

Posted in #openinternet by skepdadblog on February 15, 2010
Tags: , , , , ,

This question was posted on Twitter by a @victamildew: “Someone in #nocleanfeed Please point me to site to explain implications of Govt’s censorship on a non Internet user and why they should care”. Good question.  Short answer: there’s no reason they should. Unless of course they know any children they care about, or they value free speech, or they pay tax.

As a taxpayer, do you care about the government wasting tens of millions of dollars on totally ineffective schemes to appease lobby groups?  Money that could be better spent on effective action?  Conroy himself agrees that the filter will be almost entirely ineffective at filtering the vast majority of content that you wouldn’t want kids to see online.  His response is that it is “one of a range of initiatives”.  Unfortunately, the money wasted on the filter, which will be utterly ineffective, is money taken from those other effective schemes.  Your tax dollars at work!

Do you value free speech? Maybe you don’t care about euthanasia websites being blocked, or information about safe drug use.  I don’t blame you.  But once the filter is in, ACMA will be required to assess every website that is reported to it – by anyone – against their classification guidelines.  If the reporter can make a case to have it blocked, it will be.  And the assessment criteria can change.  And the scope of blocked material can be expanded beyond just RC content.  And ACMA is not immune to political lobbying.  Maybe next year it will be something you or someone you love cares about.  By then, it will be too late.

Are there any kids you care about? They will use the internet, even if you don’t.  Many child welfare advocacy groups, including Save The Children, are vehemently opposed to the filter.  They argue that it would prevent kids accessing educational information, but more importantly, would likely result in more exposure of kids to horrible online content.  Why?  Because the government has been irresponsibly advertising the filter as “making the internet safer” – and lulling parents into a false sense of security, which will lead to reduced online supervision.  The internet is not a safe place for kids, and the filter does not make it safer.  But some parents will believe it does and their kids will be at a real risk.

Even if you don’t use the internet, I challenge you to ignore what it will do for free speech, how it will put kids at risk, and how it will waste taxpayer’s money that could better be spent elsewhere.

« Previous PageNext Page »