Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Finally, a politician who has a clue

I have to say, up until recently, I didn't have very much time for Senator Nick Minchin, representing as he does the decapitated rump of the Howard Liberal party.

But, boy, the man knows how to critique doomed ISP filtering policies.

Steve Cannane interviewed him on Radio National this morning.

The only disappointing aspect was that he didn't commit the opposition 100% to opposing any legislation. Mind you, he doesn't need to, given that their support for legislation seems to be conditional on the trial being proven, by an independent auditor, of being a success. And we all know how likely that is to be.

Why mandatory ISP filtering is a bad idea

Stuart, a commenter on "Somebody Think Of The Children" has made this very simple point:

"The only reason that secrecy is required is the fact that filters don't work, and even those backing them know it. If your filter does work, then there is little harm in publicly listing a URL and a reason for blocking it."

There is a certain seductive truth to this, but there is one flaw. The filters that the Australian Government impose are not universal. Even if the Australian filters were perfect, the list would have to be secret to prevent the list being exploited in jurisdictions not subject to Australian law and hence filters.

Stuarts point would probably be better phrased this way: since filters will never be 100% effective and universal, the list must be secret.

The issue then is whether a democracy can tolerate a permanent lack of transparency and accountability, implicit in existence of a secret list. Relying on secrecy is never a good thing, because secrecy is very hard to sustain or, if it is sustained, it invariably leads to a lack of accountability and an abuse of power.

Why are supporters so confident that the lack of accountability and transparency implicit in the existence of the ACMA blacklist won't eventually lead to corruption and abuses of power in this case?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Xmas, Senator

It was December 31, 2007 as I was preparing to head up the coast to see my favourite band, Mammal, kicking arse in Newcastle at a NYE gig when I caught a NewsRadio interview mid way through.

The interview appeared to be with some conservative nutcase who thought that censoring the Internet would be a good idea. It then became apparent that the nutcase being interviewed was the Minister For Broadband, Communications and The Digital Economy, Senator Conroy talking about his plan for mandatory ISP filtering.

My jaw dropped. What a sneaky time to announce this - the day before the day of the long hangover, when no-one will be thinking too hard about stuff. Still, I banged off my letter to editor and hopped on my train upto Newcastle.

So it is somewhat fitting, I think, that nearly a year later, the SMH chooses to put this on the wrapper page of its December 23-25 edition. Something for the punters to talk about over the Xmas turkey. "Web Censorship Fiasco", the banner screams.

And it only gets better on the actual front page

Merry Xmas, Senator. Stay away from the cranberry sauce, lest someone mistakes you for dinner.

And a very Merry Xmas to Asher Moses and the editorial staff at the SMH - gentlepeople and scholars all.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Why don't we know which commercial entities are involved with ACMA?

I'd like to ask a very simple question:

Why don't we know which commercial entities are currently being consulted by ACMA in relation to the Government's ISP filtering plans?

The lack of this information presents a serious difficulty to our side of the debate. The pro-filtering vendor camp, who have a strong financial interest in the Government deciding to impose an ISP-filtering regime, have detailed knowledge of their own strength and weaknessess.

The anti-filtering camp doesn't even know who the vendors are and how far advanced their plans are. Without this knowledge, we can't effectively marshall our resources to do our own analyses of solutions being proposed.

I'd also like to know on what basis the CEO of iPrimus Ravi Bhatia can claim it is "It's easy for us to do it," when other ISPs don't even know if their EOIs have been accepted. Has iPrimus been working with ACMA in advance of the trial being announced? Does it already have filtering infrastructure built and in place? Or will it, too, be scrambling to build the infrastructure between now and when the trial is due to start on Wednesday?

"Mike The Participant", whoever he is, uses his position as an insider within part of the industry to accuse others, like Mark Newton, of being "ignorant". This is quite a call from someone who hurls insults from behind a pseudonym and is a beneficiary of a system that seems designed to keep us ignorant of what is being proposed.

Blatherings about commercial-in-confidence arrangements, particularly in a debate that goes to the core of what it means to be a free society in the 21st century, simply don't wash. Surely citizens contemplating the imposition of such draconian social controls as mandatory ISP-level filtering, deserve fully transparent disclosure and vigorous debate about the respective merits of the solutions being proposed?

Write to your Senators. Write to your local MPs. Write to the paper. Demand to know which commercial entities are working with ACMA and what the extent of their dealings have been to this point.

It is your right. This is, after all, still a democracy.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

With Netsweeper installed, the thought police will be unnecessary

Since October 2008 is has been clear that the Government intends to implement a 2-tier filtering regime. The first, mandatory tier, would involve URL blacklist filtering according to a blacklist specified by ACMA. The second, optional (as in opt-out) tier, would be used to filter additional material not on the ACMA blacklist that the Government thinks that Australians should be protected from.

By definition, the second tier of filtering will not use a blacklist, or at least, not an ACMA blacklist. The Government has not talked about a second ACMA blacklist. Instead, the sort of filtering performed by the 2nd tier would be more like the filtering already done in schools, corporations, and by dedicated ISPs that already offer clean feed services. It is not clear what parameters bound the operation of this second tier and how much control individuals will be given over the filtering decisions made by the second tier.

Let's suppose that an ISP grants the user some control over what is blocked on their feed. webshield already does this, for their customers. Products like Netsweeper also have a category list and any ISP that used Netsweeper could potentially offer a configurable filter to their customers.

How would configuration work? Presumably, the adults in the household could select which categories get blocked by the filter. Here's a document that lists the categories that Netsweeper uses. And here is a definition of category 23 pornography.

This category contains URLs that reference, discuss, or show pornography, pictures, videos, or sexually oriented material. This category includes nudity, soft and hard-core pornography, sadomasochism, bestiality, child porn, fetishes, stories, adult magazines, toys, or any sexual related purchase. This category excludes sex education sites.

Which is fine. What is unclear is why Netsweeper classified (on December 21) "The Porn Report Book" as class 23, pornography?

This is a site which is about a book which is about pornography. It is not a site that contains pornography itself.

Worse, here is a page which offers a review of "The Porn Report". On December 21, Netsweeper classified this page as:

Journals and Blogs [1]
Arts & Culture [2]
General News [12]
Pornography [23]

In other words, Netsweeper has decided that a site advertising "The Porn Report" and a site offering (an unflattering) review of "The Porn Report" are themselves pornographic.

What are the implications of this?

Anyone subject to a Netsweeper filter who was interested in educating themselves about the role of pornography in Australian society would be denied access to the site that promotes the book if they have the "pornography" classification switched on - which they surely would, otherwise, why are we having this debate?.

Not only that, anyone in this unfortunate condition who wanted to read reviews of the book, would have their access to some reviews of the book blocked by the same filter.

Promotional websites and book reviews are critical elements that help to sell books. It is an obvious consequence of this inadvertent censorship, that publishers of the Porn Report will lose revenue due to lost sales from a large portion of the Australian population. Furthermore, the voting public won't be as educated about the issue of pornography as they otherwise could be.

What are the publishers of "The Porn Report" meant to do?

Do they prostrate themselves on bended knee before Netsweeper and the other vendors and ask them to remove the "Pornography" classification from the site? Possibly, but why should it be their responsibility to do that? And even if the filter vendors deign to reclassify the site, that doesn't solve the problem. The publishers simply won't know where all the reviews of the book are and whether they have been blocked. Whose responsiblity is it to locate every last blocked review and get the classifcation fixed? Is it the publisher? Why?

This is why filtering for pornography is so unlike any existing censorship mechanism. It doesn't scale to the volume of material and doesn't deal with the contingent and transient nature of publishing on the Internet

So here we have a very real example of how the opt-out filtering policy will place a very real restraint on the trade of people who have conducted serious studies about the role of pornography in Australian society. Furthermore, such a filter will directly interfere with the quality of social and political discourse within this country.

This is quite simply unacceptable for a democracy. The Government should not be setting up a censorship mechanism that censors by default and is fixed by exception.

What a joke.

Readers are invited to discover for themselves what other sites Netsweeper regards as pornography using this test site.

Classifications reported by Netsweeper were accurate as at 21 December, 2008. Subsequent results may vary, presumably in response to the level of community outrage.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Mike The Participant wades in

People who read this blog may think that I am rather blind about the problem of child pornography and one-eyed about the need to protect freedom of speech. To help address this imbalance, I decided to help an acquaintance, "Mike The Participant", set up his own blog. For some reason, Mike wishes to remain behind a pseudonym. Anyway, his collected words say it all - enjoy.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Shame, McMenamin, Shame!

From today's Australian:

Ms McMenamin was equally critical of the past weekend's protests and the DLC's plans for future action.

"Let the 300 people march on Canberra because it looks pathetic," he [sic] said. "It looks pathetic and shameful because most of these people are not fully aware of the facts and secondly, those who are aware are, in effect, advocating child pornography."

[An image of a cowering Bernadette McMenamin. She really has nothing to fear. The person on the otherside of the door is a photographer whose job it is to help sell her vision of moral panic.]

A woman who has to violate the Conroy Rule in her every utterance on this subject is in no position to describe others as pathetic.

Bernadette McMenamin is a living, breathing disgrace to the Order of Australia of which she is a member. If she can't put her case without accusing others of being supporters of child pornography, her case must be exceedingly weak indeed.

We already know exactly how loose McMenamin is with facts and statistics. We know how clueless her grip is on the technical details. But even with this poor grip, she admits that the proposed filter will do almost nothing to stop hard core consumers of child pornography. She fails to consider the unintended consequences and is willing to pay any price in support of a solution that can never attain the objectives set for it.

Bernadette McMenamin's business is moral panic. She has a vested interest in it. From her point of view, an ineffective filter is actually a very good thing, because it means the oxygen that sustains the flames of moral panic, and her organization ChildWise, will never disappear.

Perhaps this is uncharitable. Perhaps McMenamin and ChildWise have done worthy work in the past. Perhaps they do some now. But why should anyone continue to be charitable about a person who unapologeticly accuses her opponents of being witting or unwitting supporters of child pornography. That is a completely despicable accusation as McMenamin herself should well know - if her tears about the plight of abused children mean anything at all.

Bernadette McMenanim, AO, is a scoundrel. Australians who are outraged that she continues to slander her political opponents as supporters of child pornography should use every opportunity they have to remind her how despicable that is.

Oh, and don't forget the March on Canberra in March 2009.

Update:Link to her e-mail address removed. I do encourage people to write to her and express their contempt. But please, try to do it without excessive vitriol since that will not, in the end, help our case. Point out we have tried to reason with her in the past but that we are dismayed that she continues to use the same slander. Remind her that her slander denigrates "Save The Children" as much as it does anonymous targets of her contempt.

Updated 28/2: I recently drew Bernadette's attention to this post. In response she pointed out that she does not herself make a habit of personal attacks against opponents of the filter and that I only gave one example of where she has made use of the slander that upset me so much. To the extent that I implied that she makes a habit of doing so, I retract that implication and apologise for generalizing from but one example. The fact remains, however, that the Australian reported her as making the remark on this occasion and she has yet to publicly deny that this was an accurate record of her remarks.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

With Adults Controlled Like This...

I had a chance to speak at the end of the Sydney rally on December 13 so I figured I would present the argument I wrote up on "Somebody Think Of The Children" last week - "With Adults Controlled Like This, Child Protection Can Wait"

Here's what I said:

On reflection, I should have concluded: "it's about what they view", but hey reality's edit functions are rather poor!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

UK ISPs who resist cleanfeed

This is a reprint from a contribution to a mailing list. The author of the contribution would prefer to remain unattributed for the purposes of this post.

We knew that ISP filtering in the UK is voluntary, and it now looks like the Wikipedia matter may be having some ramifications for censorsing ISPs. Seems some other ISPs have discovered/decided it's 'safe' to advertise that they don't censor.

This page led me to find a couple of UK ISPs with guts, so now we have proof that not all UK ISPs censor (I'm pretty sure there's a lot more than these two - but most probably haven't wanted to risk drawing political attention to themselves):




It is not our role to try and censor what you do with the internet. We do not try and log or limit what you are accessing. It is your responsibility to stick to the laws that apply to you. We have no intention of putting in place any censorship systems or using censored transit feeds.

Censorship systems are usually introduced under the guise of some emotive topic such as stopping child abuse which nobody could argue with. Such systems are very very unlikely to have any actual impact at all on the actual problem they claim to solve. Such systems often break or hinder the normal working of the internet, as seen by wikipedia recently. They are usually easy to circumvent. If they work at all then they just drive the offensive use underground and using encryption so making it harder to find and deal with. They are also the thin end of the wedge as once a system is in place then adding more is easy. Bear in mind most ISPs using such systems then have no control over what is censored or why. If we accept censorship for child abuse, then we have to accept it for terrorism, and then maybe political extremist views, and then maybe not so extreme views, and maybe wrong thinking, and "then they came for me and there was no-one left to speak out" ( )

Black boxes

We have no so called black boxes to covertly monitor traffic and/or pass traffic monitoring to the authorities or anyone else. Obviously the law is such that we may have to add such black boxes, but we would resist as far as possible. We may even find we are not allowed to change this web page if ever that happens. However, I, as director, am happy to answer direct questions on this matter on irc (user RevK) or on usenet and you can get paranoid if I refuse to."


UKFSN added the following to its home page in the last few days (reportedly in response to an enquiry from one of its customers):

"Statement of policy regarding censorship, Phorm/Webwise and other content interception

Our policy is that the electronic communications of our customers are private. We do not intercept, censor, scan or otherwise interfer with our customers' internet service.

UKFSN does not and will not have any dealings with Phorm, the company behind the Webwise system being deployed by some other ISPs to intercept customer internet traffic. We are firmly of the opinion that the Phorm Webwise system is illegal under UK and EU laws. We also believe it to be fundamentally unethical to intercept customer traffic in this manner. It will never happen here.

There is some suggestion that the UK government would like to mandate some form of interception and possibly censorship. We would encourage all interested persons to make it clear to MPs and the government generally that this is not acceptable."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Vote for Crikey Australian of the Year

Here's a chance to thank Irene Graham for her tireless efforts to research facts that help douse the flames of moral panic of those who would censor us. She deserves a proper gong, but this would still be a pretty good way to say thank you.

You can also vote for the Crikey Arsehat of the Year. I won't say who I voted for, but close readers of this blog may be able to guess.

Nominations close this Sunday.

Divorce thyself from net censorship

The message I sent with my contribution to this GetUp! campaign. Tweaked a bit to add additional rhetorical flourish that I didn't think of at the time.

Dear Government,

It's a real shame that you have undermined your own credibility on human rights by so strongly supporting a net censorship regime. A Government that doesn't trust its citizens to use its freedoms responsibly will be eyed with suspicion if it tries to enshrine those freedoms into the constitution. Which rights will be enshrined? Only those that a 5 year old can use responsibly?

This is your chance to show leadership instead of fanning the flames of moral panic.

Divorce thyself completely from your net censorship stance. Repudiate it completely. Use this experience as an example of why we need a human rights act and then perhaps people may grudgingly trust you.

Until then, any advocacy by you for an Australian human rights act will, rightly, be viewed with intense suspicion.

"Don't Panic" sunglasses For The 21st Century

Zaphod Beeblebrox had a good way to deal with panic - sunglasses that went dark at the first sign of danger - what you can't see, can't scare you.

In this day and age, when society seems ever more determined to view the world from the perspective of the paedophile, we need a new version of the Joo Janta 200's. Glasses that go dark at the first sight of moral panic or other people's children.

Quite ironic really. In the 19th century, children were to be seen but not heard, in the 20th century fads for liberation of all kinds meant that children were not only to be seen but heard as well - sometimes even listened to. Now that some view the liberation struggles of the 20th century as a somewhat regrettable mistake, it is only appropriate that we have reached the 21st century, an age in which children may be heard, but not seen.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Good Cop, Bad Cop?

The Government certainly knows its politics.

Stephen Conroy has been completely and thoroughly vilified by 11 months of rage against his ISP filtering policy. So, if you want to soothe the masses and take the heat out of this coming Saturday's street protests, why not choose a different minister, the likeable Lindsay Tanner, to host the Government's new "hang out and listen to the people" blog

If this is a sincere attempt to listen and not simply a snow job, then good on them.

However, I am yet to be convinced that we should be ready to trust this new touchy, feely Government. After all, this is a Government that doesn't trust its adult citizens to use the uncensored Internet responsibly. This is the Government that doesn't mind violating the Conroy Rule with gay abandon.

In my view, the Government must do at least the following: thoroughly and completely repudiate its previous support for a mandatory ISP filter. And, if it has the integrity to do so, it should apologise for continuously labeling opponents of the filter as supporters of child pornography.

Please don't stand down just yet folks. We need more than well-managed PR. We need a concrete repudiation of the Government's policy by the Government itself. Or, we need to see the trial fail, and let the Government sneak out the back door.

A courageous, principled leader would choose the former. A weaker, unprincipled one the latter. How about it, Kev? What kind of leader are you?

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Help Measure The UK Censorwall

As Colin Jacobs points out, the recent Wikipedia censorship affair provides an excellent example of the kind of obstruction that will be routine once Australia implements a mandatory ISP-level filtering regime

And it provides not just rhetorical ammunition. This overzealous act of censorship provides us with a very real opportunity to legally gather cool, hard data on the performance impact of the 2nd stage filtering infrastructure of the UK clean feed mechanism.

Here's how.

With a simple script, we get users in the UK, Australia and elsewhere to regularly poll random Wikipedia articles and record URLs, response times, status codes and sizes

We keep running these scripts until after IWF and Wikipedia sort out their differences.

We then do a statistical analysis of the performance difference with 2nd stage filtering switched on and with it switched off. This should provide us with an accurate measure of exactly how much overhead 2nd stage filtering adds to typical response times.

I will be writing a small bash script that generates the requisite log files and publishing it here. Please follow this blog entry and the #ukaucensorwall topic in Twitter for further updates. I can be contacted via @jon_seymour in Twitter or jon.seymour at

If anyone else can provide technical expertise to assist with this measurement exercise, please post a comment here or to the Twitter topic with contact details.

For now, please:

  • follow @ukaucensorwall for updates
  • post to #ukaucensorwall to contribute
  • poll this page occasionally for future updates
  • enlist others to the cause (particularly in the UK, but elsewhere would be good too - it will provide a useful control)

Update (2008-12-08 16:05 UTC): Need to think about this for some more so there won't be a script to run, if at all, for 16 hours or so.

Revised Plan 2008-12-08 22:00:00 UTC

A simple script isn't going to do the job because of the risk of inadvertently DDOS'ing WikiPedia should I get too many volunteers.

That said, I do have a simple bash script available which I will share with a restricted number of users in the UK and Australia if there is interest. This could be used to collect some stats right now, just in case the 2nd stage filtering is switched off before I finish the final implementation. You need either Mac OSX, Cygwin + Windows or Linux + wget to run it. Contact me by e-mail if you are interested in running it - the script MUST NOT be shared with anyone because of DDOS risks if it went viral.

Current thought is to either use BOINC or write a custom Java client that communicates with a governing servlet. This will allow tight control over the load WikiPedia gets subjected to and better control of which URLs are tested (which may help with the analysis). I'll probably go with Java rather than BOINC since Java is what I know best unless there is someone who knows how to do BOINC implementations.

I am not going to be able to spend any time on this until later this evening (Sydney time), however if you can lend a hand before that, please let me know and I can do the cyber equivalent of waving my hands in the air to sketch the plan in more detail.

If anyone who can assist with these tasks or issues, let me know:

  • BOINC implementations
  • java programming
  • tomcat + apache hosting
  • statistical analysis - particularly to help plan the test method
  • legal and ethical considerations
  • enlisting UK volunteers - we really need them :-)!
  • enlisting other Australian + international volunteers - useful controls

Revised Plan 2008-12-09 00:41:00 UTC

IWF has backed down so we can't measure the 2nd stage filter this way anymore. However, if get prepared, we will be in a better position to do it if a similar issue occurs in the future.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Principle Of Least Farce

Is it possible that the reason that the Government prefers censorship over law enforcement is that they are trying to respect the Principle of Least Farce?

This is the principle which states that when confronted with a moral panic, a Government should choose the option least likely to cause farce or, if all options will cause farce, the one likely to cause the least farce.

Consider the three incidents today:

  • the man arrested for posting a link to an extremely distasteful video **
  • the man sentenced for depicting a scene of incest within "The Simpsons" family
  • large parts of the UK losing access to the visual depiction of the cover art of a 70's German heavy metal band

And consider the case of the Henson art gallery seizures.

I would argue that of the 4 cases, the one that generated least farce was the one that did not involve law enforcement. Annoying yes, but farcical, not so much.

And with that, perhaps we understand why the Government is so reluctant to use law enforcement in issues of moral panic.

Utter cowardice.

Strong, principled governments demonstrate leadership by dousing moral panics thereby allowing law enforcement to concentrate on the prosecution of real crimes.

Weak, unprincipled ones exploit it. But that exposes law enforcement to the possibility of being placed in farcical prosecutorial positions. Understandably, they don't like it. Which leaves the Government with but one weapon in its kit bag - censorship. Less farce, less fuss.

Governments that refuse to bow to moral panics could protect law enforcement agencies from being exposed to the need to pursue farcical prosecutions. This would improve law enforcement effectiveness and reduce the need for censorship. By caving into moral panics, the Government creates the conditions that make technical censorship seem like an attractive policy option. Even if it doesn't totally eliminate the possibilities for farce.

** or perhaps not. Apparently the clip has aired on US television so it can't be that extreme.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Announcing A New Blog - Filtering Fallacies

I've created a new blog to document filtering fallacies. Each entry will document a particular filtering fallacy and will generally link to the best current expositions of the fallacy, though it may occasionally set forth the description of the fallacy itself.

Feel free to submit the fallacies that you think need to be addressed as comments to the welcome post and examples of good expositions of the fallacy.

With Lego Like This, Who Needs Imagination?

Arguably, this post will earn me an ACMA takedown notice. Consider this:

  • the photo depicts simulated sexual activity between synthetic adults [ my god, I hope they are adults!!! ]
  • it appears on a site which does not use age verification technology.
  • the fiend responsible for linking to the image is me, an Australian citizen, living in Australia. I have no idea who created the image, but I suspect it was one of those Nordic-types who have such strange ideas about pornography.

Go on, ACMA, take me down. I so much want to replace this image with your take-down notice.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Two Ways To Think About Pornography

There seem to be two different ways to think about pornography and the danger it represents to society. The pro-censorship camp views pornography as a dire threat that society needs to be actively and aggressively protected from, the anti-censorship camp views some of it as a problem, but a problem which is confined to a relatively small fringe, well away from the experience of the bulk of the population.

I think the above graphic helps to conceptualize the differences. With the "Sphere" conceptualization, most of the population interacts with G-rated content and may occasionally take excursions away from the centre of the sphere into R- and X-rated content. Many are happy to stay in the centre of the sphere. There are some extremists who seek material that has been refused classification, but there is no inexorable force dragging the bulk of the population into the Refused Classification zone - on the contrary most of the the population is grounded by the gravity of common sense and shared moral values.

On the otherhand, in the "Vortex" conceptualization, the Refused Classification zone is a vortex or black hole into which society will inevitably and tragically be dragged unless there is active resistance.

The anti-censorship lobby thinks of the spherical world of content as being somewhat analogous to Mother Earth itself, dangerous in parts but mostly life-affirming, whereas the pro-censorship lobby is clearly committed to the more exotic vortex-shaped conception of cosmic and moral doom that one might expect to find in a bad sci-fi flick.

This, of course, is just a happy coincidence of the way I drew the analogy and not indicative of any selection bias whatsoever. Well, ok, maybe some.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Letter To My Local Member

Here is a letter I wrote to my local member, Tanya Plibersek. I included the text of my recent SToC post.

If you also agree with my line of argument, I encourage you to also draft a similar message to your local MPs and Senators be they Liberal, Labor or Green.


Thank you for your reply to an e-mail I wrote you regarding my concerns with the Government's ill-conceived plan to introduce mandatory ISP level filtering.

Your statement that the government has no intention to stop adults viewing material that is currently legal would appear to contradict the following facts:

  • Senator Conroy has stated that the filter would block inappropriate and unwanted material and has thus far refused to clarify the meaning of these terms
  • Senator Conroy has stated that the filter would be based on the ACMA black list
  • the ACMA blacklist already contains material which is legal for adults to possess and view (e.g. X-rated videos, nudity)

Having been mystified as to why the Government was proposing a solution that is guaranteed to be technically ineffective, I think I now understand why. The objective can't be to block access to extreme and illegal pornography because that aim is easily defeated. No, it is clear that the objective of this filter is to moderate the porn consumption habits of middle Australia. This objective may even be somewhat effectively achieved as the experience of the Chinese firewall shows.

I explain why this thesis is more reasonable than the explanation being proffered by the Government in a piece that I have included below.

I think the Australian public will easily identify with this argument, in which case the Government's policy will fast become toxic to the political interests of the Australian Labor Party. If, having read my thesis, you agree, I encourage you to lobby your colleagues so that you may rescue the political fortunes of the ALP before it is too late. If you don't, I am sure the Greens and the Liberal Party of Australia will gladly assist.

Sincerely, ...

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

With adults controlled like this, protecting children can wait

In this article on "Somebody Think Of The Children", I think the light finally dawns on why a technically ineffective filter is being proposed.

If you agree, or even if you don't, I encourage you to distribute a link to this argument far and wide. I explicitly would like to see it picked up by opinion leaders and the mainstream media because I believe that exercising rationality in pursuit of moral clarity is a very fine thing indeed.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

With Extremists Like These, Who Needs Moderates?

Since Clive Hamilton's Crikey article of November 20 in which he tried to characterise Electronic Frontiers Australia as "representing the most extreme strand of libertarianism", the following organisations and people have taken a stance which is consistent with that of Electronic Frontiers Australia

With extremists like these, who needs moderates?

On Monday, Clive Hamilton wrote another piece for ABC Online. One would have thought that he might respond to EFA's Colin Jacobs subsequent Crikey piece or use his intellect to take the above organizations and individuals to task for their irresponsible opposition to the Government's proposal.

But no. Clive Hamilton, public intellectual, avoided direct confrontation with his public opponents but chose instead to represent the opposition to the Government's proposal by selectively quoting utterances from random, unidentified opponents which he presumably found with a lazy Google search.

Really, Clive, one has to ask what on earth is going on with public intellectuals such as yourself.

If the only people you are prepared to debate are sock puppets, what does that make you?

See also Geordie Guy's and Syd Walker's takes on Hamilton's latest.

Since writing this it has been revealed that another extremist organization, NSW Young Labor, unanimously passed a motion at a recent conference which is consistent with the EFA's position.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Sydney Protest - December 13

Here's a link to the Facebook event for the Sydney protest rally on December 13. For those without facebook accounts and no desire to acquire one, the rally is scheduled for 11am at Sydney Town Hall.

Facebookers please RSVP and invite your like-minded friends! Everyone else, just turn up with your like-minded friends!

Links for events in other cities are available here.

Updated: The correct time is 11am