Live Blog: The Tangled Web in Sydney

Photograph of fibre optics

My friends over at newmatilda.com have been running a series of public forums on Internet regulation. The Sydney forum is this coming Tuesday 5 May. I’ll be liveblogging it right here.

As newmatilda.com explains:

The Federal Government’s proposal to block websites with a mandatory filter or “clean feed” has drawn vocal opposition from the online community, who are concerned about its impact on civil liberties as well as on the technical functionality of the internet. Meanwhile, many people are unaware of the proposal and its potential impact on their day to day lives.

Speakers are Fiona Patten from The Australian Sex Party, Geordie Guy from Electronic Frontiers Australia and Kerry Graham from Inspire Foundation. It’s chaired by David Vaile, head of UNSW’s Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre.

As a preview, you might like to read about last week’s forum in Melbourne or watch the video, or listen to the Brisbane one.

Bookmark this page, ‘cos the liveblog will start here at around 6pm Sydney time on 5 May. [Update 6 May 2008, 3pm: The session is complete, and I’ve fixed the spelling and added a few links.]

If you can’t see the CoveritLive tool immediately below, then you’re not using a compatible browser. Anything written without attribution will be from me.

Feel free to add questions and comments.

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9 comments

  1. Maenad_au’s avatar

    http://www.sexparty.org.au/ looks like crap in Firefox.

  2. clarencegirl’s avatar

    Thanks for this live blog. Following the debate with interest.

  3. Geordie’s avatar

    I might need to hammer together some details about the current ISP trials. Generally it’s easy to pick when I’m being rhetorical but I’ll go into further detail about how absolutely ridiculous the currently underway trials are.

  4. Stilgherrian’s avatar

    @Geordie: The problem I faced with the liveblog last night is that I’ve been covering this issue so closely that each event now reveals little new material. Maybe someone less jaundiced needs to liveblog the next event?

    There’s certainly plenty of ways to deconstruct and critise the current “Phase 2” filtering trials — not the least of which are that they’re not random double-blind trials, that there’s no independent audit or peer review, and that there are no pre-set criteria for success.

    It really does seem to be a case of “Hey, just try something and tell us what happened.” Senator Conroy’s office can then just cherry-pick whatever numbers they find politically palatable and bury the rest.

    In other words, the Rudd government’s claim to be using “evidence-based policy” is sadly just another cynical exercise in spin. They seem completely uninterested in using the established scientific, academic and forensic techniques for gathering and evaluating valid evidence. Pricks.

  5. Panda’s avatar

    The issue is quite simple in my mind.

    1. Will the list of banned sites be available via FOI for review by independent bodies (eg. EFF) in order to prevent misuse? If not, it’s the same as book-burning. FAIL.
    2. Will the exact guidelines be publicly available, so everyone can see exactly what falls under this censorship (calling a spade a spade). If not, our rights are being wronged. FAIL.
    3. Will it stop any kid seeing the results of the Google image search for “furries” (just try it). The answer will be no — technically impossible. But that’s the internet. If you don’t like it, don’t let your young children use it!

    In my mind, parents who are worried about their young children seeing stuff on the internet should not let their kids use the internet. The internet is basically adult material — I think that should be clear by now.

    If we look at it like that, a lot of the arguments for censorship become moot.

  6. Stilgherrian’s avatar

    @Panda: Well, Australia’s Freedom of Information Act was specifically amended so the ACMA blacklist is not available for scrutiny. That’s one of the key objections. Secret government censorship? Ahem! It’s only become an issue under the Rudd government now that the blacklist is actually going to be used for something — and compulsory at that! — rather than being an optional component of Internet filters used by a very small minority.

    John Birmingham got it right over a year ago:

    If parents are going to plug their kids into the net it is the parents’ responsibility to look after the little darlings while they’re online. You wouldn’t set a small child loose in the city and expect the government to step in and do your child-minding for you.

    Oh, and I think you mean EFA (Electronic Frontiers Australia), not their US equivalent and inspiration EFF (Electronic Frontiers Foundation).

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