Third Crikey story this week! Today I returned to that evergreen favourite, the idiocy of the Rudd government’s plans to install ISP-level filters on the Internet.
Alas, the story is currently behind Crikey‘s paywall, but it begins:
Is there anyone who reckons trying to filter bad stuff out of the Internet is the right way to go? Or even possible? Apart, that is, from sex-obsessed panic merchants and moral crusaders, politicians with Senate numbers to count on stubby little fingers, shiny-suited salesmen hawking boxes marked “Rooly-Trooly-Safe Internet Filter”, or cud-munching Luddites who just don’t understand anything about the Internet generally?
Those with a clue are getting sick of pointing out the same policy and technical flaws. But Minister for Denying the Bleeding Obvious Senator Stephen Conroy relentlessly continues his warped version of the trials program set up by Coalition predecessor Helen Coonan.
Filters won’t work because no shut up doesn’t matter let’s try again they don’t work no let’s try again they don’t work let’s try again don’t work try try try try … FFS!
The Rudd government says it’s all about evidence-based policy. Maybe this new report from the US Internet Safety Technical Task Force will help. This panel — a who’s who of Internet heavies — was set up by 49 state Attorneys General to tackle the problem of children being solicited for sex online. It discovered there’s actually no significant problem at all.
You can read the whole thing, if you’re a subscriber or take up the free trial offer, at Another nail in the coffin of Conroyâ€™s Rabbit-Proof Firewall.
My writing must be starting to score some hits, because there’s been two comments today attacking the man and not the ball.
Someone calling themselves Verity Pravda, who blogs at The Interweb Warrior, commented:
Simple question. Does this raving lunatic think there should be no classification system on any media? Or that there should not be a Refused Classification category at all? If so I look forward to his campaign on that change.
I heartily agree that the policy is being handled atrociously. But Stil continually misrepresents what is proposed. Nothing about the filter is about the threat to children from being entrapped on line. The “protection of children” the Minister talks about is the protection of children from taking every action he can to stem trade in the images.
It is the functional equivalent of protecting elephants from poaching by banning the trade in ivory. It doesn’t mean you don’t also have programs to catch poachers. But you sure as heck don’t put up a special entrance way at your ports saying “if you have potentially illegal items please enter here”.
And at this point all the Minister is asking is that ISPs try blocking access to the websites and tell him how it works — that looks like real evidence based policy rather than just one person saying “it doesn’t work”. By the way, saying something more than once doesn’t make it true.
And exactly why is Crikey providing his rants. Since when has Crikey been a paragon of a complete libertarian view on content. Goodness me only yesterday Stephen Mayne seemed to be promoting ASIC’s investigation of those Packer stories and — horror — quite calm about the idea of the journalist being forced to reveal their sources. Somehow I thought that was on the taboo list.
Actually, I’ve corrected the typing mistakes. I’ve got this thing about publishing badly-typed material.
@Verity Pravda: As I’ve previously answered on your own blog… No, I do not think there should be “no classification system on any media”. I’ll even answer the question again, since you seem to be having trouble with my answer: No, I do not think there should be “no classification system on any media”.
It’s not “just one person saying ‘it doesn’t work'” but in fact the government’s own trials from the first half of 2008 (which we’ve linked to many times before), and the detailed commentary of experienced network engineers such as Mark Newton.
As I’ve also pointed out in your blog, many of the assertions you keep making about current government policy have been thoroughly debunked at Libertus.net (and elsewhere). But you keep repeating your incorrect assertions. As you yourself say, “saying something more than once doesn’t make it true”.
The opponents of ISP-level internet filters can back up their arguments with facts, references to official documentation and solid logic. You seem to keep avoiding addressing those argument and resorting to the straw-man “you want to flood the world with illegal material”, like Conroy does… why? Could it be because your own arguments are actually weak, and the factual basis non-existent?
My own argument is that the limited money we have available should be spent precisely where it will do the most good to “protect the children”: policing and education.
My experience with Crikey is that they publish a whole range of reportage, opinion and commentary. People who imagine there’s a “party line” can’t be reading very carefully.
I will admit to one problem with my article. Written quickly and with a word limit, it didn’t adequately separate out the threads of the government’s Cyber-Safety program.
On the other hand, Senator Conroy has continually jumbled up all the pieces too. And that’s deliberate. It’s a classic troll tactic. Keep changing the focus of the subject. Keep making personal attacks. Keep claiming things which are factually incorrect. Your opponents get lost trying to correct the myriad of factual inconsistencies — while the “ordinary person”, baffled, can only respond emotionally to the “we must protect the children” plea. Dirty, but effective.