U.S. Leaders Should Heed Their Own Advice On Internet Filters

from the glass-houses dept

It has been kind of entertaining (some would say frightening) watching the Australian government’s futile efforts to clean the Internet of its naughty bits. As part of their filtering plans, the government conducted trials with a handful of ISPs, many of whom have been very vocal in their beliefs that the filters won’t technically work. These ongoing trials had no quantifiable metric to determine whether the trials were a success or failure, so obviously, Australian Communications Minister Stephen Conroy proudly announced that the trials proved the filters to be 100% effective. Political leaders in favor of the filters haven’t exactly been open to feedback on the dangers of filters, and the country learned nothing early on, when a teenage kid hacked their original filter system in all of half an hour.

Recently, U.S. politicians have been ramping up their criticism of Australia’s filtering efforts, with the State Department last month issuing a rather vague statement indicating "we have raised our concerns on this matter." This week, the U.S. Ambassador to Australia Jeff Bleich was willing to get a little more specific in a low-quality poetry sort of way, insisting that the Internet "needs to be free" in much the same way "the polar caps have to be free" (whatever that means). Bleich went out of his way to state that there are other methods to deal with extremism and child pornography, like addressing them at the source:

"We have been able to accomplish the goals that Australia has described, which is to capture and prosecute child pornographers and others who use the Internet for terrible purposes, without having to use Internet filters. We have other means and we are willing to share our efforts with them in order to allow them to at least look at a range of choices, as opposed to moving in one particular direction. It’s an ongoing conversation."

While Bleich insists it’s a conversation, all indications are Australia’s government isn’t listening. They’ve already spent a fortune on the idea, and have ignored critics every single step of the way. As is usually the case when talk of imposing filters fires up, the specter of child pornography and other societal menaces are used as the scary red herring. Given how susceptible U.S. citizens are to sales pitches involving "protecting the children," it seems like only a matter of time (and lobbyist effort) before the United States requires ISPs to impose copyright filters at the behest of the entertainment industry and Bono. We’ve already had a few close calls, like with the ACTA or with U.S. lawmakers trying to bury filtering plans into the broadband stimulus effort — so it sounds like Uncle Sam should heed his own advice.

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Comments on “U.S. Leaders Should Heed Their Own Advice On Internet Filters”

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Big Al says:

Re: Re:

AC, you should actually look at what the Australian filter proposal covers. It isn’t just about child porn (although that’s how it’s being ‘marketed’ to the unwashed masses) but also about anything that the censors (i.e. the government) don’t like.
That could conceivably extend to the criticism of the incumbents or, in fact, anything a lobbyist with enough cash doesn’t like, such as The Pirate Bay. All with no public oversight.

Karl Bode (profile) says:

sort of a very long lead from child pornography to copyright filters. is the masnick engaging in his own version of scare mongering?

I’m confused. Child porn and extremism have repeatedly been used as justifications by those looking to push copyright filters around the globe. There is scare mongering afoot, but it’s not “the masnick” doing it (who didn’t write this post anyway).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:


“The planned release of a blockbuster motion picture should be acknowledged as an event that attracts the focused efforts of copyright thieves, who will seek to obtain and distribute pre-release versions and/or to undermine legitimate release by unauthorized distribution through other channels. Enforcement agencies (notably within DOJ and DHS) should plan a similarly focused preventive and responsive strategy. An interagency task force should work with industry to coordinate and make advance plans to try to interdict these most damaging forms of copyright theft, and to react swiftly with enforcement actions where necessary.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“everything is some sort of slippery slope” … that’s rich, coming from the guy who said that because some kids download songs a WHOLE GENERATION is growing up with no repect for ANYONE’S property.

See, your problem is you have been here too long, talking drivel. Such is your inability to adopt a singular and consistent viewpoint abut anything that there is now no need to negate your posts with logic since there is a large history of your own statements that can be drawn upon to contradict anything you say either now or in the future. You, sir, have reached an unsustainable level of contradiction that will cause yourself to compress into a black hole of BS from which logic and reason cannot escape. Congratulations TAM Wormtonge!

Steve R. (profile) says:

Filtering and Third Party Liability

An important aspect concerning filtering is third party liability which you discuss a few posts down. We already see too many companies declining to produce products or services because of the bogeyman word “liability”.

Beyond the liability issue there is that of the police state. Are we going to end up being a nation were people are mandated by law to spy on their neighbors and turn them in for “infringing” on some obscure special interest group?

How Third Party Liability Can Stifle An Industry

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