Aussie government muffs plans for internet filtering
Greens borrow Sex Party clothes
Plans for filtering of all internet content in Australia could well backfire on the Labour Government, with talk of "socialism" banned, and muffins off the menu entirely.
On a more serious note, the Rudd Government has finally scared a concerted anti-censorship movement into being, which could in the long run lead to a backlash against those who have been pushing their own moral agenda onto the Australian people.
Problems with "socialism" were highlighted in a piece this week in the Australian Daily Telegraph, which gleefully pointed up the link between Labour and male impotence. Apparently, filters in other countries have hit problems with their ideology for the simple reason that it also contains the word "cialis" – an anti-impotence drug frequently promoted via spam email.
They also cite a story told by former Communications Minister Helen Coonan about the time when she attempted to order some strawberry muffins online. Her department’s filter system took exception to her use of "muff" – and the order did not go through.
Similar issues have occurred over the years in the UK with home-grown filter software that is not fully thought through. In one case, an Insurance company was rather surprised to find that after implementation of its in-house filtering system, direct mail campaigns to Essex, Sussex and Middlesex ceased entirely – as did communication with the inhabitants of Scunthorpe.
A couple of years back, respondents to a Home Office Consultation in the UK were surprised to find some submissions automatically rejected by a filtering system set up in one part of that Department. The consultation was on the subject of extreme pornography – and the filter took exception to receiving emails with the word "pornography" in the title.
As for what all this has done to the Australian political landscape, Fiona Patten, convenor of the Australian Sex Party, recently compared the sex industry to the caged canary that miners kept as an early warning against bad air.
Her view is that censorship of sexual material is more often than not followed by broader political censorship. The censorship tide in Australia today is coming in, and while many individuals may not get terribly excited about the censorship of what is generally regarded as smut, proposals by the Rudd Government to censor the internet through compulsory filtering feel very much like the thin end of the wedge.
The future role of the Sex Party in Australian politics will bear watching. The reason for their foundation was that governments of every stripe are unduly influenced by the small number of extreme pro-Christian pro-family independents who hold the balance of power in Senates at both State and Federal level. Their aim is to win a small number of Senate seats to redress that balance.
In the week since its launch, it claims to have signed up over 1,000 members, which gives it official recognition as a political party in Australia and permits it to put forward candidates for the Senate.
In further developments, which may eventually impact on the fate of the Sex Party, the Greens, with five Senators already elected, have now officially stated their opposition to the internet filtering proposal. Green Senator and Communications Spokesperson Scott Ludlam has been actively lobbying on the issue for some time.
On Tuesday, Green leader Bob Brown told ABC Television: "We're very, very concerned that there's going to be a unnecessary clampdown on the internet and it has to be watched."
In other legislatures, new and innovative political parties have often failed simply because, despite highlighting real electoral grievances, other parties have moved quickly to absorb their most significant policies. It is possible that this process has already started in Australia, with overlap between positions held by the Greens and the Sex Party, not only on internet filtering but on same-sex marriage, for which the Greens recently re-iterated their support.
In that case, expect the Sex Party to fade away over time – but if its aim is genuinely to break the stranglehold that a certain type of Independent has on the Senate, they may consider such an outcome to be a not bad result. ®
I'm glad to see
That the US isn't the only country infected with the religious nutjobs who are so holy that they're the best ones to determine for everyone else what they see and do. Of course, it doesn't matter that most of them are utter hypocrites; they are the privileged few who know the true interpretation of the bible. they would happily give up all your rights and freedoms if they could implement islam-styled religious courts to enforce their warped narrow view of the world.
re:And this shows what's wrong with proportional representation
"First past the post at least keeps the fringe elements (aka nutjobs) out of office"
Ah yes, politicians - those paragons of virtue! They wouldn't be caught in a strip-club or with a prostitute would they?
Those "nutjobs" and "fringe elements" so derided above are the electorate. Politicians in general act the way they do to gain power, not because of their own intrinsic sense of morality. They vote that way because they think its what you want to hear. If you care so little about your "rights" that you vote for who you think will win, instead of for what you believe in, then you are beyond help.
Yes, the Australian plan is complete madness - you don't allow government so much control over general communications channels, especially when the ostensible target of the action travels mostly over p2p, not http. Its dangerous, gesture politics. With apologies to Schneier, its "morality theater."
Before you brand all Christians as nutjobs, remember that the Bible says Christ was offered political power and he turned it down saying that was not how he works. Those who wish to carry His name also need to remember this!
Its really sad to see the UK, America and Australia continue down the utterly intolerant, totalitarian path embarked upon in the last 10-15 years. They have totally lost the concept of "we do not approve of, but we will permit" something. Everything "bad" has to be stamped out. Its a dangerous path I fear will continue as people feel less secure in the financial climate.
I feel a bout of civil disobedience coming on... ahoy thar!
Bob Brown's comment
Bob Brown is quoted in this article as saying:
"We're very, very concerned that there's going to be a unnecessary clampdown on the internet and it has to be watched."
How long have people been listening to political doublespeak?? What did he really say? NOTHING!
For all we know he will just sit on his hands and watch it happen - that \'s all he is saying he will do - watch.
maybe there was more to the comments than were quoted, but what is quoted really shouldn't give anyone hoping the laws are not passed ant hope at all.