Australia Continues Down The Slippery Slope Of Censorship… 'For The Children,' Of Course
from the politicians-are-idiots dept
Australia has a long history of trying to censor the internet. As far back as 2002, we were talking about the infamous list of banned websites that absolutely no one but the government censors were allowed to know about. Australia required ISPs to block those sites, and there was no review process or appeals process to make sure those sites weren’t legitimate sites. Since then, the Australian gov’t has pushed for ISPs to be responsible for blocking all porn, and spent hundreds of millions of dollars on porn filters that are easily cracked. More recently, the Australian government pushed to allow the police to add websites to the banned list, again without any sort of due process. Instead, the police could simply tell ISPs they had to block any site that the police feel potentially “encourages, incites or induces,” “facilitate(s)” or “has, or is likely to have, the effect of facilitating” a crime. A fairly broad description.
That’s why it’s a bit weird to see the fuss being kicked up over the latest policy to force all ISPs to put in place mandatory filters that can only be surpassed by officially opting-out (the equivalent of making someone go register to get a “porn license.” There really isn’t that much new or different here, but it does have the standard politician pandering about how this is all to “protect the children.”
What’s most bothersome about this story, however, is the response from politicians to those who oppose this kind of censorship: “If people equate freedom of speech with watching child pornography, then the Rudd-Labor Government is going to disagree.” That’s not just misleading and wrong, it’s obnoxiously incorrect. In one single move, the politicians brush off anyone concerned about this program as being supporters of child porn. That’s a pretty good way to kill a rather important debate. The people who are opposed to this kind of plan aren’t “equating freedom of speech with watching child porn,” and it’s an outright fabrication for any politician to suggest such a thing. What they’re complaining about is the idea that the government can force private companies to block access to certain pages on the internet itself. For those who point out that these sites are illegal in themselves, then shouldn’t the government be going after those who are responsible for the sites? That’s the problem that people have with this. The government is effectively blocking sites without any due process, while failing to actually go after those who may be doing something illegal. Yet, rather than deal with that issue, the politicians brush off all criticism by suggesting all criticism comes from people who want to look at child porn.