I’m very cross tonight. Most of the time, I quite like being Australian. I love my socialized medicine and my affordable education and my superannuation. Not tonight, though. Tonight I am ashamed. And tonight I want to tell you about it.
Oh, what a delightful thing, that this still goes to the world. For the time being, at least, the Australian government cannot legally restrict my capacity to send this message far and wide. I can TELL you I am ashamed. But my legal right to say such is, at least indirectly, being put in serious jeopardy.
You see, those days of freedom are waning. Today, Senator Stephen Conroy, who has taken the mantle of Douchiest Man In Australia from a field of hundreds of worthy candidates, announced that the trial of a “clean” internet feed had been a success.
What’s a clean internet feed? It’s the government imposing mandatory internet filtering at ISP level. It requires ALL internet service providers in Australia to prevent their clients from accessing a black list of sites. This black list is provided by the government and is not available publicly. Furthermore, the blacklist cannot be challenged.
How can such blatant abuses of freedoms be tolerated in a democracy? Of course it’s by stating it’s “for the children”. The moves have been framed in terms of porn and violence, though there’s a strong “illegal activity” element. The government has stated it will restrict access to such sites. As is to be expected, Rupert Murdoch’s papers are singing its praises. They’re framing it a victory for family values.
But it is not. It is a victory for human rights abuse. Extreme, I know, but that’s what this is. The government should not be able to limit our freedom on speech in such a manner. They should not be able to limit our capacity to organize. They should not be able to determine our values for us. That is our responsibility, not theirs.
The technology requires to do this is not reliable. It doesn’t block the sites it purports to block, and it limits beyond the scope of what it is supposed to limit. Furthermore, it legalizes behavior by the government that ought not be legalised. The government should not be able to decide what the public can and cannot see. That is a fundamental conflict of interest.
It bothers me so much. It bothers me because, fundamentally, its a reminder of what we lack by not having a Bill of Rights: protection against government overstep. But it also reminds me of the way the government don’t truly understand the role of digital media. Do they think it’s not *really* the media? Do they think we don’t take it seriously? Do they think it doesn’t matter to us? Do they think we don’t want to protect it?
The online world isn’t just a part of our world. It is inseparable from our world. We read, write, share every day via digital media. It’s not optional to us: it is fundamental to our experience. We do not want that compromised. We do not want our experiences of the digital elements of the world to only be what the government deems to be appropriate for us.
We are adults and we deserve to be treated as such.
What’s more: we care about our freedoms. We consider digital freedom to be fundamental to that. We will vote accordingly.
An Angry Australian.