Stop the Australian Internet Filter

In a misguided attempt to "protect" Australian internet users from the dangers of the world wide web, federal policy makers led by Senator Stephen Conroy are proposing the mandatory filtering of content. This will see the implementation of filters on the servers of Internet Service Providers across the country. This will result in significantly lower connection speeds (in the order of 80%). And as the filters will rely on a "black list" provided by a government body, it opens the door to potential misuse or political interference.

The government’s own tests have shown that the filters cannot adequately determine the difference between legal and illegal content, and will be completely ineffective against content shared via peer-to-peer systems used by most illegal "distributors" of content or software. Rather than wasting precious taxpayers money on ineffective technology, I suspect we would gain greater communal and economic benefit from some simple technology education. After all, if we are serious about protecting our children from the dangers of the internet, we should start by providing parents with the skills and understanding to determine what their kids are looking at.

Electronic Frontiers have put together a site to help bring our concerns to the attention of politicians. There are a number of things you can do to take action. Sign the PETITION.

Call the Minister

There’s nothing like a personal
phone call to get the message across. Call the minister’s office on
(03) 9650 1188 and let them know your objections.

Write to the Minister

A
personalised letter to the Minister sends a powerful message: We don’t
like the policy, and we care. Letters can be sent to the Ministerial
office:

Senator Stephen Conroy
Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy
Level 4, 4 Treasury Place
Melbourne Vic 3002

Here is a template you may wish to consider using.

Dear Minister,

As an Australian and an internet user, I have serious concerns about your mandatory Internet filtering initiative.

Given the importance your Government has attached to modernising
Australia’s broadband network, pursuing a policy that can only slow
down and increase the costs of home internet access seems misguided at
best. Australian households are diverse, and most do not have young
children, so mandating a one-size-fits-all clean feed approach will not
serve the public well. I don’t think it is the Government’s role to
decide what’s appropriate for me or my children, and neither do most
Australians.

Given the amount of Internet content available, the
Government will never be able to classify it all and filters will
always result in an unacceptable level of over-blocking. I feel that
the time and money could be spent in better ways both to protect
children and improve Australia’s digital infrastructure. Australian
parents need better education about the risks their children face
online. Trying to rid the Internet of adult content is futile, and can
only distract from that mission.

13 comments

  1. As advised by Senator Conroy’s office, his email address is minister@dbcde.gov.au

  2. Give Malcom TurnBull, a call once we have both him and the greens on the side. This babay is dead.

  3. Brilliant article, I’m sending this on to everyone I know.
    Thanks
    Mat

  4. Wow. That’s a pretty scary little piece of legislation these guys are working on. If they had any huevos, they’d ban the internet completely. You know, in the interest of public safety. ;D

  5. Gee that’s just a little . . frightening. I’ll post it on. Thanks Gavin.
    Jen

  6. Unbelievable, I thought this kind of thing only happened in communist countries try to censor the info their people get. Crazy.

  7. That is just crazy. Get this nut out of office as fast as you can. Just signed the petition.

  8. I have a mate who works at the Broadband Dept and he reckons they have had about 2000 letters arrive so far. He anticipates they’ll get double that and that’s just hard copy letters.
    He sees the letters and reckons one actually signed off by saying “oh Yeah Conroy, while you are at it … drop dead.” (Round of applause I reckon).
    This whole filter idea is a complete joke. We already have terrible broadband speeds in Australia … we don’t need something that slows it down more.
    I agree with the comments about spending the money on an education program. But then again, it’s juts like everything else that people complain about – they never take responsibility (case in point: ban junk food ads because a grown adult’s will is no match for a 6yo demanding Maccas … gimme a break).
    Oh here is an idea … maybe full, unfiltered, fast broadband should be means tested. You know, only smart, responsible people should have access to it rather than dead beats who get it because their kid says “all the other kids have it” but then don’t monitor their own kids use and then complain because of the content!

  9. I have a mate who works at the Broadband Dept and he reckons they have had about 2000 letters arrive so far. He anticipates they’ll get double that and that’s just hard copy letters.
    He sees the letters and reckons one actually signed off by saying “oh Yeah Conroy, while you are at it … drop dead.” (Round of applause I reckon).
    This whole filter idea is a complete joke. We already have terrible broadband speeds in Australia … we don’t need something that slows it down more.
    I agree with the comments about spending the money on an education program. But then again, it’s juts like everything else that people complain about – they never take responsibility (case in point: ban junk food ads because a grown adult’s will is no match for a 6yo demanding Maccas … gimme a break).
    Oh here is an idea … maybe full, unfiltered, fast broadband should be means tested. You know, only smart, responsible people should have access to it rather than dead beats who get it because their kid says “all the other kids have it” but then don’t monitor their own kids use and then complain because of the content!

  10. I have a mate who works at the Broadband Dept and he reckons they have had about 2000 letters arrive so far. He anticipates they’ll get double that and that’s just hard copy letters.
    He sees the letters and reckons one actually signed off by saying “oh Yeah Conroy, while you are at it … drop dead.” (Round of applause I reckon).
    This whole filter idea is a complete joke. We already have terrible broadband speeds in Australia … we don’t need something that slows it down more.
    I agree with the comments about spending the money on an education program. But then again, it’s juts like everything else that people complain about – they never take responsibility (case in point: ban junk food ads because a grown adult’s will is no match for a 6yo demanding Maccas … gimme a break).
    Oh here is an idea … maybe full, unfiltered, fast broadband should be means tested. You know, only smart, responsible people should have access to it rather than dead beats who get it because their kid says “all the other kids have it” but then don’t monitor their own kids use and then complain because of the content!

  11. Thanks Paul. Unfortunately, they just got in 😉 …

  12. The Australian government already offers free filtering software. But nobody knows about it not even schools know it exists. Very few have downloaded it and this seems the reason the government wants to introduce ISP filtering. So, instead running an awareness campaign or getting the schools and public libraries to advertise it, they have decided to filter internet at the ISP level. The question is why the minister wants to replace PC filters with more features to protect children on the internet with ISP filters?

  13. A disillusioned voter /

    History has taught us that no organisation or group should have the power to say what is right and wrong. Although I am sure that the current government has no intention of using this technology in a way to hide, or alter the truth, the technology allows this by blocking sites that says otherwise. A over the top example is if the government decided the world was flat, it could configure the filter to block any site that indicated otherwise. Of course there are closer to home examples of this such as blocking any site that opposes the current war in Iraq, gives counter arguments to the prohibition of guns or drugs, or sites that offer voters a place to start petitions or question current policy. Not that I necessary agree or disagree with these arguments, that is irrelevant, the fact that I live in a free democracy dictates that the debate on these issues must heard from all sides, and intelligent decisions be made by the people for the people. The very idea of an government controlled content filter is an insult to the very thing that past Australians died for in past wars. Did we not fight and die for the right to choose our own leaders, and freedom of speech?