Wire: Melbourne Gathers Against Internet Censorship

March 3, 2010: (Inquisitr Wire) – A broad cross-section of concerned citizens, advocacy groups and local activists have gathered to organise a forum to voice public opposition to the Labor Government’s controversial and unpopular Mandatory Internet Filtering scheme. Coming together under the banner of STOP THE FILTER, their efforts are part of a nationwide push to inject much-needed balance and public voice to the debate, with Saturday 6 March designated as a National Day of Action.

“Our intention in staging STOP THE FILTER PRESENTS: AN ANTI-CENSORSHIP EVENT is, firstly, to give a public face and a voice to the majority of Australians who oppose Senator Conroy’s attempts to align Australia with countries like China and Iran as regards censorship on the internet,” says Stop The Filter spokesman Peter C. Hayward. “That being said, we understand that people are rightly concerned about internet safety, protecting children from inappropriate material, and allowing the government to stop the spread of illegal and harmful material on the internet. Along these lines, the gathering at the State Library on 6 March will be as much about sharing information and helping parents and all Victorians to learn more about the issues of censorship and internet safety.”

Mr. Hayward continued: “Our speakers are not just politically-motivated activists. There will be experts and professionals on hand to provide constructive, useful information, and information on how people can effectively keep their families safe on the internet without supporting the Government’s secret, draconian scheme to put our access to information in the hands of unelected administrators with a secret blacklist.”

Confirmed speakers for STOP THE FILTER PRESENTS: AN ANTI-CENSORSHIP EVENT include representatives from The Australian Greens, The Australian Sex Party, Electronic Frontiers Australia, Exit International, Pirate Party Australia, Socialist Alliance and Socialist Alternative. In addition, throughout the afternoon Stop The Filter will be sharing statements of support provided by a multitude of community groups and professional/industry organizations, and distributing information sheets to help further public education and awareness around internet safety & censorship issues.

With an estimated minimum $44 million price-tag, a questionable trial performance, and a design that has been strongly criticized by non-partisan industry and professional groups including the Internet Society of Australia and The Australian Library & Information Association, Senator Conroy’s Mandatory Internet Filtering scheme is – despite widespread questions and criticism – scheduled to become law in the next few months, pending the already-announced introduction of legislation to finalize the scheme. In a recent poll conducted by ABC’s Hungry Beast program, a whopping 91% of those interviewed said that they did not support a filtering scheme based around a secret blacklist. Serious questions regarding transparency, the slowing of internet speeds nationwide, the blocking of lawful material, and the ease with which the filter can be circumvented by anyone with even a moderate understanding of the internet remain unanswered by the government and Senator Conroy.

Concludes Mr. Hayward: “When your opposition includes everyone from child protection advocates such as Save the Children and the National Children’s and Youth Law Centre, to companies like Google and Yahoo, to librarians, Reporters Without Borders, prominent Anglican Canon Dr. Ray Cleary… Senator Conroy and Prime Minister Rudd are even ignoring people within their own Party, such as Senator Kate Lundy, who are saying ‘maybe there are better ways to go about this’. They won’t listen to the experts, the advocates, or the business community, so maybe if the Australian public speaks up loudly enough, they’ll stop to listen before they railroad this through. That’s why it’s vital that people come out on Saturday to speak up, ask questions, or just to find out more.”