The lies of the internet censors: Your. Filter. Won’t. Work.

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I’ve just written a piece for Crikey today about the hypocrisy of those folks in favour of Internet censorship. It begins:

Gloves-off time. The purveyors of pervasive internet censorship — handful that they are — have burned their goodwill. It’s time to call them out on their lies and demand to know why they’re not advocating the real solutions to child sexual abuse.

Bernadette McMenamin of ChildWise, you’ve crossed the line, defaming everyone who’s protested the government’s plans. “Most of these people are not fully aware of the facts and secondly, those who are aware are, in effect, advocating child pornography,” you said. How dare you!

Ms McMenamin, to really stop child abuse we need to spend our resources efficiently. Let’s run through it one more time. And let’s skip those hysterical, made-up “statistics” you still peddle. Child abuse is bad enough without heading into your paranoid fantasyland.

It continues in that vein. It’s not behind Crikey‘s paywall so it’s free to read.

5 Replies to “The lies of the internet censors: Your. Filter. Won’t. Work.”

  1. Nice piece on Crikey. Straight to the point. Just the right amount of justified indignation, and good clear facts as always. Well done. Loved it.

    I am actually personally insulted by Bernadette’s comment that I advocate kiddie porn because I find the filtering hoo-hah utterly farcical and pointless. It is but another easy, simplistic fix — like taking paracetamol to dull the pain of a cancer so you can ignore it. Wilful ignorance is a powerful force indeed, especially when coupled with the temptation of an easy fix.

    I call for Bernadette’s resignation. Her lack of professionalism, and the failure of judgement on her part is inexcusable. We should reconsider donating funds to ChildWise.

    We don’t need more lies and moralistic hysterical fearmongering. These only get in the way.

  2. I should post here my “clarification” which was published in Crikey on Thursday

    I said the government’s Phase 2 trials of internet filters were another closed test, without actual customers, not the promised “live” field test. Not quite right. There’s two tests going one. One is a “scalability test” of ISP filtering technology using a hypothetical test list of 10,000 URLs. “This part of the pilot does not require customer involvement and will be completed in a closed network environment,” says Senator Conroy’s office. The other is the in-ISP test with customers.

    “The Expressions of Interest document makes clear that we intend to trial filtering of the ACMA blacklist on a live network with customers. Customers will also be involved in trials of options to filter a broader range of internet content,” they say. Whether ISPs take part in the blocking of the “broader range” of material is optional. Optus, for example, will not.

    Meanwhile, respected network engineer Glen Turner, who runs works for the universities’ Australia’s Academic & Research Network (AARNet) suggests the 10,000 URLs is a “useless number”. “What the government are testing isn’t what any sane ISP would deploy,” he writes, saying it’s the wrong hardware and the wrong software.

    On Friday afternoon, we had the news that the government has yet to notify the trial participants whether they’re in or not. The trials are meant to start before Christmas, and that only leaves three working days. Actually, the trials were originally meant to be completed by Christmas, but that milestone seems to have slipped without any really explanation. Senator Conroy really is the Minister for Delaying Things, as Bernard Keane calls him.

    Here’s another thought. If the “live trial” is meant to test the performance of Internet filters in the real world, what use is a test over the Christmas and January period when commercial Internet traffic is way down because people are on holidays?

  3. David Marr makes an excellent point in The Monthly on this topic when he refers to “the deep politics of censorhip that survives untouched by time: being effective is never crucial. Governments only have to show they’re doing all they can”. Conroy et al are deaf to the criticisms because they simply don’t care that it don’t work. It’s all about the optics of doing something about child pornography. It’s a cynical perspective, but doubtless the correct one.

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