The Australian Christian Lobby’s Jim Wallace is on the Fairfax news sites today, telling the same old lies to support compulsory Internet filtering. Sigh.
Since Wallace promotes himself as a representative of good Christian values, I’ll allow that he may just be ignorant rather than a deliberate liar. Ignorance is no sin: it can be cured with knowledge. But he does use the familiar fraudulent propaganda techniques: misrepresenting his opponents; cherry-picking numbers; failing to explore the implications of those numbers; citing the same suspect Australia Institute report; and wrapping it up in the same old “protect the children” cant.
Those of us who’ve been covering this issue for more than a year now are getting sick of responding to the same easily-rebutted debating tricks. But, as I keep saying, politics is a marathon event. So if Jim’s rolling out the same material, we’ll point out the same flaws.
Continue reading “Jim Wallace’s pro-censorship lies and distortions”
If you really wanted to protect children from sexual abuse, why would you take money away from the very people who could best stop it? Better ask Kevin Rudd, because that’s exactly what he’s done.
$2.8 million, which the Howard government allocated to expand the Australian Federal Police’s Online Child Sexual Exploitation Team (OCSET), was instead used by Rudd to help create Conroy’s $44.5 million Rabbit-Proof Firewall.
That’s a shame, because OCSET’s entire annual budget in 2007 was only $7.5 million. Without that money, OCSET simply doesn’t have the staff to investigate all of the suspected pedophiles it already knows about. Some cases get palmed off to the states — that is, to police who don’t have the specialist training and experience of OCSET. The rest…?
“Only half are likely to be investigated by child protection police,” reported the Daily Telegraph. “The rest will be farmed out to local commands or dropped”.
What a great way to “protect the children”, eh? Take money from the police, where it’d do some good, and burn it on a poorly-defined Internet filtering project. Anyone who knows anything about IT will tell you the same thing: without clearly-defined goals up front, you will go over budget, over schedule and in all likelihood, your project will never be completed.
[This article is based on material which first appeared in my subscriber-only Crikey piece Another nail in the coffin of Conroy’s Rabbit-Proof Firewall on 15 January
2008 , and would not have been possible without Irene Graham’s superb research at Libertus.net. Another part of it, with some fascinating discussion in the comments, is over here.]
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.
Continue reading “Another nail in the coffin of Conroy’s Rabbit-Proof Firewall”
Here are the web links I’ve found through to 10 December 2008, posted automatically.
- #mumbai: three days as a Twitter journalist | News.com.au: The story of 21yo Aditya Sengupta, a Mumbai student who became part of the Twitter clearing house for news in the wake of last week’s terrorist attacks.
- Adler, The Perverse Law of Child Pornography | The Columbia Law Review: “In our present culture of child abuse, is child pornography law the solution or the problem? My answer is that it is both. This reading pictures law and culture as unwitting partners. Both keep the sexualized child before us. Children and sex become inextricably linked, all while we proclaim the child’s innocence. The sexuality prohibited becomes the sexuality produced.” A challenging read.
- Prospect reads: first rate, brave Economist article on Thailand at First Drafts | The Prospect magazine blog: This post reveals that The Economist‘s feature article on Thailand was written by Peter Collins, their southeast Asia chief, as his final act before moving back to London.
- Thailand bans Economist | Straits Times: Needless to say, this week’s edition of The Economist is banned in Thailand, tho not “officially”. “This is one of those ‘cultural harmony’ bans, where the book distributors and stores take it on themselves not to distribute,” says free speech activist C J Hinke.
- Thailand’s monarchy is part of the problem : The king and them | The Economist: Also from The Economist, a bold editorial calling for Thailand to abolish its “archaic” lÃ¨se-majestÃ© law.
- Thailand, its king and its crisis : A right royal mess | The Economist: The controversial cover story from The Economist this week, breaking the taboo on discussing the role of Thailand’s King in politics. It acknowledges that it’ll make Thais squirm, but it delivers one of the most incisive analyses I have yet seen. A must-read for anyone wanting to understand the Kingdom and the choices it faces.
- Live Filtering Pilot Another Lab Test: DBCDE | How to Be A Systems Engineer: Can this be true? According to the DBCDE officer this guy spoke with, the Phase 2 trials of Australia’s Internet filtering still won’t be real. “This will be a closed network test and will not involve actual customers,” they said.
- E-mail Etiquette 101 | Michael Hyatt: This is from mid-2007, and the hyphenated “e-mail” is a bit quaint. However these are all still valid points. I continue to be amazed at how poorly most businesses use basic tools like email.
- Otto the octopus wrecks havoc | Telegraph: Octopuses are smart enough to get bored and start causing trouble.
- Rolling Your Own Newsroom | O’Reilly Radar: Robert Passarella explains how he wired up a quick custom new page using Google Reader, Yahoo Pipes and some Typepad RSS widgets. The same thing could easily be dong using WordPress plugins or whatever.
- World's Top Tourist Traps | ForbesTraveler.com: “Not all overcrowded, merchandise-swollen travel hot spots are created equal, and some deserve to be flagged as full-fledged tourist traps.”
- Breaking news online: A short history and timeline | Teaching Online Journalism: A quick timeline of some major events in online journalism. I think it should include a lot more. Has anyone seen any more comprehensive lists?
- Inside Story | Politics, Society and Culture: “Launched in October 2008 by Australian Policy Online, Inside Story combines high-quality journalism and analysis to bring readers a distinctive view of Australia and the world. Drawing on a network of writers, researchers and correspondents in Australia and overseas, Inside Story investigates the forces shaping contemporary politics, society and culture. Inside Story is edited at the Institute for Social Research at Swinburne University of Technology.”
- Net porn: Whose rights matter most? | ABC News: Clive Hamilton has written another piece which tries to equate free speech with pornography, misrepresents the anti-filtering arguments, and deliberate overlooks that filtering won’t work — he even says he’s ignoring that discussion, claiming we should debate the morality of pornography before we look at whether filtering is possible. Full of intellectual dishonesty. Are these really the best arguments there are for comprehensive Internet censorship?
- The Art of the Title Sequence: What is says: A website dedicated to the opening titles of films and TV programs. I stumbled across it because they’re currently highlighting Soylent Green.
- A Penny for My Thoughts? | NYTimes.com: A Pasadena, California news site has outsourced all its local journalism to writers in India, who are paid $7.50 per 1000 words.
- The Musical Compositions of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej: The King of Thailand is, amongst other things, an accomplished jazz musician, playing alto saxophone and writing. This is a selection of his work.
- A piddling offence and much worse | www.smh.com.au: “Senator Stephen Conroy’s plotting and warring has added to Labor’s decline,” wrote Paul Sheehan in this revealing 2004 article. “His base certainly isn’t the electorate,” he writes. “His power comes from offstage, from the patronage of his mentor, Senator Robert Ray, and his years as a recruiter (his enemies call it branch-stacking), deal-maker and kneecapper for the Victorian Right. His reward was Senate preselection at the age of 31. Once in the Senate, Conroy could start knifing people under the protection of parliamentary privilege. He did not waste any time.”
- Sharing Around the World | Facebook: This video showcases a Hackathon project that visualizes all the data Facebook receives.
Here are the web links I’ve found for 28 November 2008, posted automatically with the aid of badgers.
- Conroy responds to Ludlum. Finally. | Public Polity: A blog post quoting Senator Stephen Conroy’s eventual response to Greens Senator Scott Ludlam’s questions about Internet censorship plans. I haven’t had time to analyse it or link back to the original Hansard.
- Future of Journalism summit | Corporate Engagement: Trevor Cook’s live blog of the MEAA’s The Future of Journalism summit, held in Melbourne on Wednesday. Yes, there’s still some value in reading the commentary.
- History of US Govt Bailouts | ProPublica: A nice chart comparing the size of financial bailouts of commercial operations by the US government since 1970.
- Statistics Laundering: false and fantastic figures | Libertus.net: “This research paper contains information about various alarming and sensational, but out-of-date, false and/or misleading ‘statistics&’ concerning the prevalence of ‘child pornography’ material on Internet websites, etc., which appeared in Australian media reports and articles in 2008. While sometimes statistical exaggerations are not important, those referred to herein are being used to directly exaggerate the prevalence and hence risk level of certain threats, and to indirectly weaken the position of those attempting to critically assess the nature of the threats, and whether proposed public policy solutions are effective and proportionate.”
- Save the Net | GetUp! Campaign Actions: “The Federal Government is planning to force all Australian servers to filter internet traffic and block any material the Government deems ‘inappropriate’. Under the plan, the Government can add any ‘unwanted’ site to a secret blacklist. Testing has already begun on systems that will slow our internet by up to 87%, make it more expensive, miss the vast majority of inappropriate content and accidentally block up to 1 in 12 legitimate sites. Our children deserve better protection – and that won’t be achieved by wasting millions on this deeply flawed system.”
- Are web filters just a waste of everyone’s time and money? | The Guardian: The interesting thing about this article isn’t so much its clear explanation of the pointlessness of trying to automate an Internet “bad things” filter but the fact that it was written in August 2007. Nothing has changed since.
- AFACT v iiNet: the case that could shut down the Internet | APC: A legal analysis of the law suit being brought by the movie industry body AFACT against ISP iiNet. This will be an important test of the “safe harbour” provisions of Australian copyright law.
- Labor's arbitrary internet filter plan misguided and deeply unpopular | Liberal Party of Australia: The Liberal Party’s media release, which includes the full text of Senator Nick Minchin’s statement about Internet censorship.
- Minchin slams Labor’s NBN backflip | ZDNet Australia: Opposition Senator Nick Minchin has ripped into the Australian government’s Internet censorship plans, calling them “misguided and deeply unpopular”. Without Liberal support, and without the support of The Greens, no new legislation can be passed. (The article’s headline related to the other story covered in this report, the question of whether the tendering process for the National Broadband Network is sufficiently transparent.)
Australia’s controversial plans to “filter” (i.e. censor) the Internet are being discussed in a major forum tomorrow — and I’ll be blogging it live on this very page. Bookmark it for reference!
The forum is at the UNSW Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre from 10am Sydney time on Thursday 27 November, through to 2.30pm, and there’s a fantastic array of speakers.
There’s three sessions: technical and social/legal to set the bounds of what’s actually possible, and then one focussing on how we actually protect the interests of children given this background — both preventing children seeing “inappropriate material” and stamping out child pornography.
Continue reading “Live Blog: Internet censorship forum”