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Thread: Internet Freedom/Filtering

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When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

'Tis The Season For Tech Fails


Chronogical Blog Entries:



Date: Fri, 25 Dec 2015 22:39:40 +1100

Your humble blogger wishes you a Happy Christmas. And offers more humble fare from his most humble keyboard.

There seems to have been quite a bit written about tech fails at the end of 2015.

For example, Farhad Manjoo has a regular column in the New York Time Bits section. On December 23, his column titled "For the New Year, Let's Resolve to Improve Our Tech Literacy", proclaimed that the most obvious "Tech" story for 2015 was the general failure to understand it. According to Farhad, US politicians, regulators, law enforcement officials and the media were chief among those who failed to come to grips with digital technology.

Farhad's article was mainly concerned with celebrities and the public sectors in the USA ... He cited the following examples:

All of which your blogger heartily endorses. Well done Mr. Mangoo! Although as far as Donald Trump goes, your blogger might offer his own humble opinion that Mr. Trump might yet discover, in 2016, that those who live by the sword often die by the sword ... And the past year does demonstrate that social media can be a double-edged sword!

Also, in your blogger's humble opinion, we should not let the private sector off too lightly for their performance in 2015. There were several corporate tech fails and military SNAFUs this year, many of them involving technology based entities, who should have known better. Among them:

Such was the landscape in (American) social media. And the things that we all talk about online.

In Australia we have our own tech fails that are peculiar to our sunburnt political arena and the great distance electrons must travel to get to the antipodean regions of the world.

On October 13, The Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Bill 2015 took effect. And it seems to have taken effect very quietly and inoffensively and disappeared completely from the public radar. Now dear reader, your blogger realises that your attention span might be rather short (or nonexistent?) when it comes to issues such as the retention of metadata, especially if you, like our Attorney-General are not really sure what metadata is.

So here is a brief summary so far.

The germ of the original idea has floated around in political circles for decades. But this current incarnation took seed in 2014, when two leading Liberal dimbulbs, Messrs Abbott and Brandis demonstrated deep and profound ignorance in their public pronouncements about the Internet in general and metadata in particular. Such a hair-brained scheme was bound to attract the support of the influential right wing of the party, who as far back as 2003 had supported legislation that banned pornography on the Internet ... Now this may come as a surprise to you dear reader. You may not realise that the Howard Liberal government banned Internet pornography that long ago. And your blogger must say it is a jolly good thing that they did ... <sarcasm> Just imagine how serious the problem might be today if they hadn't banned it ! </sarcasm> ... The legislation was passed and then left to rot on the vine ... Which it did, slowly atrophying into legislative cruft until it was harvested by Labor Senator Conroy who wished to distill it for his ill-advised Internet Filter in 2008. He stuck with the proposal doggedly until it unravelled in 2012.

Now it might be that Mr. Turnbull would rather not take on the right-wing of his party over this issue, or perhaps he hopes that this legislation will just rot in the back paddocks like its predecessor in 2003.

An interesting test for the new legislation will come if communications authorities try to enforce it, when some ISPs fail to meet their obligations.

Your blogger has blogged about this in the past. Here again is a brief summary of some objections to this legislation:

This issue may have slipped off the public radar for the time being, but your humble blogger hopes that it can get back onto the public agenda in time for the upcoming election. The fantasy of controlling and regulating the Internet is a long sad history of tech fails, wasted time, wasted resources and unintended consequences. And there are some sections of society who just will not let it lie. Having failed to convince us about the need for such measures to stop child pornography, the argument now is that they will "stop terrorism" ... Which is simply not true. The metadata retention bill may stop many things but terrorism is not one of them.

This bill is in fact the same old shambling monstrosity freshly arisen from its grave. It is time for us to put garlic in its mouth, decapitated it with a ceremonial sword, put it back into its coffin, hammering a stake through its rotten heart and nailing the lid firmly shut with silver-plated nails dipped in holy water ... And if we succeed in burying it again, we must resolve to bury it very deep this time ... So deep that some future pack of right wing drongos do not dig the bloody undead corpse up again and attempt to revive it.


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