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Thread: Internet Freedom/Filtering

Author Image Gerry Patterson. The world's most humble blogger
If at first you do not succeed ... You must be a programmer!

Voluntary Mandatory Filter?

Chronogical Blog Entries:

Date: Fri, 29 May 2009 00:44:51 +1000

On Monday Senator Conroy told a senate estimates committee that the Internet Filtering proposal could become a "voluntary" scheme. This comment has started a considerable amount of speculation in the Blogosphere. Could the Rudd Labor government be preparing to back-flip on the Internet Filtering proposal which they (and the opposition) took into the last election?

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

Certainly it would be one of the more welcome policy back-flips to come in the arena of Communications and IT. Welcomed by most bloggers apart from a small minority of extremists.

However before the celebrations commence, it might be prudent to study the comments that started all this speculation. These are the comments made by Senator Conroy to the Senate Estimates Committee in reply to questions from Senator Minchin. The well known Wikileaks site, famous for exposing corruption and official global bullshit, has published the Hansard transcript of the exchange here.

And as an aside, we should recall that at one stage Wikileaks may have been on the ACMA black list -- In March this year the dim-witted bureaucrats at ACMA made a lame attempt at removing Wikileaks from Australian DNS. For all we know Wikileaks may still be on the secret black list which ACMA has compiled. Wikileaks themselves assert that they are still on the list which they exposed in mid-March.

Your humble blogger has read the Hansard transcript carefully and is still not sure what Senator Conroy is talking about. Some cruel (but fair) bloggers have suggested that even Senator Conroy is not sure what Senator Conroy is talking about, and thus demonstrates what, it appears, is one of the necessary prerequisites for the job of Minister for Communications and IT (who these days is called the Minister for Broadband, Communications and Digital Economy).

Your humble blogger will leave it up to you dear reader to decide what exactly the minister is saying -- Is it that it might be possible to mandate a voluntary filter? Or to volunteer for a mandatory filter? And dear reader, you may further decide who might be volunteering - Is it ISPs volunteering to adopt mandatory filters on behalf of their customers? Or will it be mandated that they offer their hapless customers the option of volunteering? It's your choice dear reader -- And isn't great to have all these choices!? Well after all that's what this new Digital Economy is all about.

Nevertheless a tiny glimmer of light seems to be shining into the deep dark tunnel of internet filtering. The government may in fact be preparing the great Australian ship of state to change course. If they are, it won't be due to concerns about freedom of speech or about unfair blocking of Internet access or possible misuse of the technology. It would be because whenever a truly independent expert opinion has been sought, the advice has been consistently, that a universal mandatory Internet Filter would be expensive, would slow down the Internet and impede E-commerce and probably would not work. And those are pretty good reasons not to go ahead with the proposal.

In all a lot of money has been spent on this foolishness. Money, which in your humble blogger's opinion, could have been better spent on improving our bandwidth! Still as the minister's new name suggests, perhaps that is on the agenda now?

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