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Thread: Internet Freedom/Filtering

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There are 10 types of people in the world. Those who understand binary and those who don't.

Who Needs a Policy? - The Great Firewall of Oz (2)


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Date: Tue, 08 Jan 2008 18:59:04 +1100

A little background research has revealed that Internet Filtering has been official Labor Policy for some time. It seems that the devil was in the policy details.

Note: This was one of several posts about The Great Internet Rabbit-proof Fence -- Click here to return to the Index page.

On the 22nd of June, 2006, when the government of the day unveiled their Free Internet Filtering Software for families, Kim Beazley, opposition leader at the time, on the next day in parliament, criticised the proposal for going soft on porn. Big Kim stated that Labor would require ISPs to install Internet Filters to protect our kiddies and called on the government to do the same. The response from the Prime Minster was that Labor's policy would impose "unreasonable restrictions and cost burdens". He was quite scathing about the idea of mandatory Internet Filters. Earlier that year (in March, 2006), Government Senator Coonan (then Minister for C&IT) had also ridiculed Labor's policy, stating, amongst other things, that:

According to research conducted by the Government's Internet safety organisation, NetAlert, the kind of server-based filtering proposed by Labor has been found to have a major adverse impact on network performance.

And I concur -- I might remind you dear reader, that when I made my first blog entry on this topic, I proffered a similar opinion! Generally speaking the Howard government managed to get it wrong when it came to IT and communications policy. However on that one occasion, Senator Coonan was unusually well-informed and persuasive.

Much later, caught up in the giddy exhilaration of the great going out of business sale election campaign, Prime Minister Howard and Senator Coonan announced another big spending program for Internet Safety. On the 11th of August, 2007, in what amounted to a complete back-flip, Prime Minster Howard announced a new policy which his minister, Senator Coonan, enthusiastically endorsed. It was, in fact, the very same policy that she had so comprehensively bagged, the previous year. And true professional that she is, she did it without even the slightest hint of embarrassment . For her boss JW Howard, who also managed to keep a perfectly straight face, it was another case of Me-To politics.

And so both major parties went to the polls, with the same badly flawed policy on Internet Filters.

The idea of Internet Filters has not been a huge success. The most well-known example is the Chinese "Golden Shield Project", which many netizens refer to, disparagingly, as The Great Firewall of China. This is an obvious reference to the fact that this latter day electronic wall is similar to the ancient earth and stone Great Wall of China, which was also large, expensive, built to impress, difficult to maintain and ineffective at keeping out the barbarians.

It's a pity you didn't read their policies a bit more carefully. If you had you might have voted for the Greens.

Related Entry Here.


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