Most days, I am a proud Australian. Tonight, I am not.

I’ve known about MP Stephen Conroy’s internet legislation for a while, but I never thought it would ever come to anything. But now I’m getting scared, because it is starting to look like it might actually happen.

The legislation basically introduces two federally-controlled internet filters to all internet providers in Australia. One is an opt-in model that allows parents to block content deemed inappropriate at an ISP level, rather than on their PC. But the second is a mandatory, ISP level filter that will block all sites on a government blacklist. The blacklist will not be made public, nor will the rationale for adding sites to the list be publicly available.

The negative consequences of this are plentiful and obvious. The first is that it will slow down the already-slow internet by up to 87%. Australia has a dull and backward internet culture already, and this will only serve to ensure we are even further behind the countries that are leading in digital technology.

But the consequences for our civil liberties are far, far worse. The legislation will allow the government to control what we can and cannot see on the internet. While they are selling it as a way to prevent child pornography, there is no assurance in the legislation that it won’t be used for other things. In fact, there has already been discussion about restricting access to sites that teach people how to commit certain acts- such as sites that discuss how to throw up after a meal or commit suicide. Of course, those sites aren’t good things, but restricting access to them is fundamentally unacceptable.

While it’s unlikely that the government would, in fact, silence dissent online, it may block access to online casinos and file sharing sites. While I don’t necessarily agree with using these kinds of sites, I don’t think the government should restrict access to them. Honestly, this feels like a move that comes from companies attempting to protect their copyright, being sold through the “child protection” meme.

It would not even be effective. Any half-savvy adult would be able to find what they need using a VPN or secure proxy. All it will do is slow down the internet, and restrict access, and provide a framework that can be easily abused.

I could go on, but really, I have nothing to add that hasn’t been said by one of the many people who have written about this. All I can say is please, please write to your local MP if you disagree with this legislation. Get Up have an online petition here, which you can sign. Also, there is a protest next Saturday at 11am at Sydney Town Hall.

To learn more, check out some of these links:

GetUp’s Campaign

No Clean Feed

This is just scary

Transcript on a Greens MP’s website

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