Why The Australian Anti-Censorship Movement May Lose
If you haven’t seen our coverage before, the Australian Government is proposing to introduce Chinese style internet censorship on internet access in Australia.
Going into the last Australian Election, the Australian Labor Party (ALP) presented a policy of voluntary internet censorship to the polls. That policy stated that a filtered version of the internet should be made available to those who want it. As a concept, it’s a sound one. Despite the studies proving that computer level filtering is superior, a “clean feed” option via ISP’s isn’t a bad one; it’s optional, and there is a sound market for it.
But that’s not what the ALP did. Shortly after being elected, the highly right wing christian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd changed the policy and made it compulsory. Minister for Censorship Stephen Conroy became the messenger; although I can’t say why I believe this to be the case, I believe, no matter how much I hate that he sold his sole, that Conroy is the messenger as opposed to the one pushing it. The push for censorship came from the top, from the same Prime Minister who is now pushing a legal drinking age of 21.
That most Australian’s are against the Great Firewall of Australia is mostly a given based on multiple poll results previously. There was a poll published by News Corp (who have run a pro-censorship line from day one) this week that claimed 80% are for. What isn’t disclosed in their articles, or even by the polsters, is what the question was. And yes we checked the website for the pollsters: it’s not there.
Lets play devils advocate: Question: do you believe that child porn should be blocked on the internet in Australia?
Let me tell you that 80% is low. I believe that it should be blocked. There’s a perfectly good European example that Stephen Conroy likes to use that shows that. But here’s the thing: the UK example is voluntary by ISP, and it strictly blocks child porn. I may be dead against internet censorship, but I have no problem here. The key is in what is being filtered: in the UK it’s roughly 2-2.5k sites, and sites that should be blocked. Likewise though filtering on that small scale doesn’t affect speeds in a major way either; the Australian filter trials in part (only) found that. At the same time those Australian filter trials are being used to say 2-20 million sites won’t be affected, and that’s bollocks.
If Conroy brings in a kiddie porn filter only tomorrow, let me be the first to back it.
But I digress, because the title here is why the anti-censorship lobby is losing.
It’s rather simple: there is zero co-ordination between the groups. I hear or read about minor protest action. Anonymous is doing their best today in highlighting the issue via perhaps illegal means, but they’re getting better headlines than most of the Australian groups.
I’ll say up front, I don’t like all the groups who have come out against censorship. Get-Up has magically turned against the ALP despite helping put them in Government at the last election. The Greens are against it, despite them being against discussion on climate change.
I sort of like the Australian Sex Party, except that they have this bizarre idea that there should be a compulsory 50/50 split M/F in parliament. I’ve joined the Pirate Party, but I’m not completely convinced about their abilities yet, not helped that they don’t get the basics on sending media releases.
But what I believe personally, or any of the players for that matter, should be irrelevant.
The problem is, and remains, that the groups against censorship aren’t getting together and co-ordinating.
Here’s the thing: censorship is a reality in this country unless all the various groups, no matter how far left or right they are, get together and protest this. Not just protest online, but together on the streets.
This country has a proud tradition of street protest that sometimes has resulted in change.
I personally will never agree with all of you, and you will never agree with your selves, but seriously: if we all agree in the one thing, together we are stronger than we are apart.
Please anti-censorship groups: put your differences aside on the one issue. Embrace your enemy because you know that what you say should be as sacred as what your enemy says.
It’s time for a change in Australia.
If you agree with me, and would like to make this happen, email me. We can do this, but only together.