Internet filter developments

iiNet today pulled out of the filter trial:

AUSTRALIA’S third largest internet service provider (ISP) has pulled out of the Government’s web filtering trials, saying the plan is “no longer just about stopping child porn”.

iiNet says the ambiguity of “unwanted material” is what caused it to pull out of the trials.

“We are not able to reconcile participation in the trial with our corporate social responsibility, our customer service objectives and our public position on censorship,” iiNet managing director Michael Malone said in a statement.

“It became increasingly clear that the trial was not simply about restricting child pornography or other such illegal material, but a much wider range of issues including what the Government simply describes as ‘unwanted material’ without an explanation of what that includes.”

Of course the history here is that iiNet are fierce opponents of the filter – they openly stated at the beginning of the trial that they were only participating to prove it wouldn’t work. Still, this sounds ominous. Between this and the “inaccurate” leaked ACMA blacklist, it’s pretty clear to me that child porn is a Trojan horse and that the government would like to use the filter for a variety of purposes. Given the presence on the list of several gambling websites (including the completely legal betfair.com) this probably includes enforcing the Interactive Gambling Act 2001, which criminalises the provision of online gambling services to customers physically present in Australia.

I accept that there are always aspects of a party’s policies that I won’t like, so there are not many unforgivable policy sins for me. But attempting to gain divine control over the internet is one of them. I preferenced Labor over Liberal in 2007, but they’ll be going dead last next time. I’m going to need a lot of convincing to vote Labor again as long as Conroy has his greasy hands anywhere near the levers of government.

Thankfully, at the moment it’s looking like the Senate can be counted on to kill this ghastly idea. Credit where it’s due to the Greens, who whatever their other shortcomings can usually be counted on to support civil liberties (firearms aside). Also a lot of credit is due to Nick Xenophon, who I cordially dislike, but who has taken a sensible stance on this issue. While I’m sure he’d like to impose internet controls on his pet issue of gambling, he’s had the sense to recognise that the filter is a bad idea which won’t work.

16 thoughts on “Internet filter developments

  1. I preference Latham over Howard and Howard over Rudd. I have no regrets. 😉

    I always figured that Rudd was no Hawke or Keating on the economics and that we would simple get Howards social conservatism with left leaning economic ideology and a more general desire to socially engineer. However I have always had a sympathetic ear for those that like Labor because of the Hawke/Keating economic reforms. I take the view however that Hawke/Keating was an exceptional combination of innovative skill, pragmatism, salesmanship, political biffo and leadership. Rudd is pure popularism and given an uptick in unemployment his popularity will recede and without it he will be naked.

    However let’s not forget that Howard was also keen to save us all from porn. He wasn’t a libertarian.

    Anybody here giving a donation to Wikileaks?

  2. John, I also have other reasons to dislike the Rudd government, but they don’t matter because Internet censorship is a dealbreaker all on its own.

    If Labor actually manage to enact the thing, I may never vote for them again. They will join Optus corporation on my list of serious grudges.

  3. I was going to say that I would never vote for them again, but I never have voted for Labor, so that’s an idle threat. And to where would you emigrate? Don’t most countries have such filters now? Is there a filter-free paradise that won’t buckle to world trends?

  4. Labor have always been the worst party on freedom of speech, you shouldn’t act surprised.

    You need only look at the ALP State Governments to see how much they hate free speech. VIC, TAS and QLD have been saddled the religious and racial vilification crap. In 2004, W.A tried hard to introduce the same nonsense but failed.

  5. John and chris. Totally agree. I almost regret preferencing Labor. But on the plus side the Liberal Party seems to have drifted towards more of a libertarian direction under Turnbull than it took under Howard.

  6. I don’t see much sign that the Liberals are any more liberal than they were when in government.

    New Zealand seems to be filter free for now. They were going to implement some silly law where ISPs were going to be liable if users breach copyright by downloading stuff but they now appear to be backing away from this crude presumption of guilt.

  7. Fleeced & Nick — I think Yobbo was just talking about himself and chrisjv, who both earn a bit of pocket money from online gambling.

    Terje — not sure if the Libs are getting better, but I was pleased to see them oppose the stimulus, the IR laws, the alcopops tax, the CPRS & the internet filter.

  8. The weird thing about Conroy is his idea of the “devine right of parliament”. He’s said a few times that while MPs and Senators are elected they should be able to do what they want, and if the people don’t like it, they can vote the d-bags out. He’s really something.

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