1. Federal Member (ALP) thought it was a good idea that we ask for clear goals on what mandatory filtering is aiming to achieve and how this is going to be measured as successful.
For example, are they trying to:
- protect children from inappropriate material on the internet
- protect society from adults accessing inappropriate material on the internet
- protect children from predatory interactions with pedophiles
- protect children from risks online generally (as described by Labor)
- (if I’m cynical) get a percentage swing in marginal seats (very measurable!)
2. We should then compare these to alternative strategies (opt-in filtering, parental monitoring, policing of offenders) which may be more successful at achieving these goals.
3. When discussing mandatory filtering, I think we need to resist issues being conflated when we are pointing out the flaws. i.e. the technical problems vs the risk of impairing civil liberties and free flow of ideas vs whether we need censorship at all. At the same time, we need to point out the goals of scheme also conflate or confuse issues. e.g. If mandatory filtering is blocking content to a RC level, how is that content feed age appropriate for children?
I wanted to ask why mandatory filtering was a necessary component of the various strategies that were being set out to achieve the scheme’s goals to protect children but the discussion got a bit mangled.
4. We also need to ask for a list of risks and how these will be mitigated:
- technology being used to curb free speech / free flow of ideas
- arbitrary addition of URLs to blacklist
- parents / schools becoming complacent about monitoring their children’s use of the internet
- technology censoring content that should not be refused classification (false positive)
- technology causing degradation of service
It’s interesting to see how the Conroy/ALP response shifts over time. The current response (as mirrored by my Federal member) seems to be: there are a number of topics you can’t publish / sell / buy in a book or a DVD, so you shouldn’t be able to do this on the internet and he was yet to hear a good answer to this from no filter advocates. So lets get some good answers — I have some ideas.
Things that he said will derail mandatory filtering: if it causes tall poppies (big business) in Sydney and Melbourne to notice degradation, then filtering will likely be stopped.
- impressed that he was across the issues.
- might be interesting to talk about civil disobedience / historical and contemporary examples / if that should be censored.
- Lastly, attack by Anonymous was inadvertently raised by someone else. While I think EFA may be too conservative (I think the notion of censorship board approving types of women’s bodies is beyond outrageous) however, it appears EFA were right — in Federal Member’s mind, he sees us and them as arguing for the same thing — and said if anything, taking down the APH site made him want to legislate more. I didn’t respond other than checking he realised that it was an international protest, not the people in Aus who were advocating for open internet.
I’m working on a letter to Senator Conroy. I’m not really happy with first 2 paragraphs as they stand.. will probably rewrite / reduce into one. Let me know if you have any feedback. I’m not really focused on the implementation/deficiencies of the tech here. I think that’s important but I think limiting freedom of access to ideas and the lack of quantifiable outcomes in terms of the protection in the proposed policy as its stands are really scary.
It is clear that filtering (censorship) does not prevent access to child pornography (Enex TestLab Report, 2009: Circumvention Testing). It is not clear how mandatory filtering protects children. How does this approach do anything to prevent exploitation of children through child pornography?
(Maybe delete first para)
This is bad policy that will do long term damage to the freedoms we enjoy and espouse throughout the world, while doing nothing to curb the production of child pornography or to prevent access to child pornography to those who seek it. It is also an extremely blunt instrument to protect children from inappropriate material on the internet, something that parents should either take responsibility for in the restricted access services they give their children or by participating in their children’s activity online.
While I feel strongly about many issues that the government and opposition debate, I’m taking the step of writing this letter to you because what’s the point of any of the other policy positions you or I may care about now or in the future if we can’t guarantee open and uncensored forums to discuss them in.