After Senator Stephen Conroy’s disastrous week last week — the ACMA blacklist of banned Internet content leaked and shown to be rubbish, the Classification Board’s website hacked and his damagingly poor performance on Q&A — what next? And what’s Conroy’s exit strategy?
Last month, Greens Senator Scott Ludlam wondered how we can move beyond criticism of the highly-flawed Internet filtering plan:
We’re all in vociferous agreement about what won’t work. But what will? Can this enormously empowered campaign speak with one cogent voice about what we’re for?
How do we empower parents to make the best choices for their families, and law enforcement agencies to prosecute the creators and distributors of the worst material trafficked over the internet?
Is there a way to adequately prepare children to understand other threats such as cyber-bullying, without asphyxiating the greatest information sharing tool in history?
Can we directly challenge the epidemic of sexualised violence against women and children in this country and place the online tip of the iceberg into its proper context?
All very good questions. And as Warwick Rendell points out, this isn’t just an abstract debate.
In a well-written and well-worth-reading essay, Rendell says we — that is the people tearing apart the stupidity of the Rabbit-Proof Firewall — need to do something constructive.
Even if we manage to stop the Great Australian Child-proof Fence this time, if we don’t find a way to put our knowledge into layman’s terms, draw the non-computer savvy up to meet in the middle, and teach “digital citizenship”, then a solution will be imposed on us.
In summary: The pro-filter lobby are offering a solution to the “problem”. It’s not enough for the anti-censorship campaign to demolish their argument — if we don’t start offering an alternative workable solution as part of our strategy, we will ultimately fail.
So my questions for you today are:
- What solutions can we offer to the key problems — solutions which are practical economically, technically (if they have a technical aspect) and politically?
- How can Senator Conroy manoeuvre himself out of his current position politically while still retaining his personal political credibility and that of the Labor Party?
- How is all this presented to Family First and the others who saw Magic Internet Filtering as he solution to their problems?
We also need to be very clear that we’re addressing three separate problems — problems which get conflated because they’re both about “protecting the children”, but which are really very different in nature.
- Preventing the production and dissemination of child abuse material such as child pornography.
- Preventing children accessing information which, in the view of their parents, is inappropriate for their age.
- Preventing bullying.
What are you suggestions?