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Photograph of Clive Hamilton

Well, he is! As part of The Australian‘s “super blog” on Senator Conroy’s Rabbit-Proof Firewall plans, Clive Hamilton has remixed his favourite old party piece. This time his rant is entitled Web doesn’t belong to net libertarians. Have a look. It’s a giggle.

OK, back? Cool.

Now I’ve dismantled most of Hamilton’s logical fallacies, baseless slurs and misinformation before, here and over at Crikey. Still, if Clive wants to sing the same old tune I’m happy to hum along one more time…

Clive, you started by saying, “Here is the kind of situation the Government’s proposed internet filter is aimed at,” and then provide a detailed description of an unsupervised schoolboy looking for porn.

Is it?

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Stilgherrian’s links for 01 February 2009 through 09 February 2009, collected in a great big lump because… well, just because.

There’s lots and lots of good material to read here, but I don’t want it to dominate my home page so they’re all over the jump.

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Crikey logo

“The field trials of the Rudd government’s compulsory Internet filters, which were completed just before Christmas… no, they started before Christmas… no, that’s not right either… when do they start? Senator Conroy? Anyone? Can’t say? Fat kid on the far right? Okay, The Australian says they’re ‘imminent’. So another Christmas then.”

So starts my piece in Crikey today on… yes, you guessed it… the Rudd government’s plan for compulsory censorship of the Internet. There’s some interesting background on where this push for censorship comes from, and links to a new survey of one ISP’s customers — who don’t like the idea at all.

The article is not behind Crikey‘s paywall, so it’s free for all to read.

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.


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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 | “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.)

Politics & Technology Forum with Matt Bai, Canberra, 25 June 2008

As previously warned, I’m in Canberra for tomorrow’s Politics & Technology Forum as a guest of that little husband-and-wife firm called Microsoft.

I’ve repeated the programme below, but right now my head is spinning with ideas. PubCamp Sydney was bad enough, what with conversations coming left, right and centre. And I watched the Twitter stream from Melbourne’s event yesterday — and I’m still processing the thoughts.

But this…!

My Twitter stream will use the hashtag #poltech and you’ll be able to track everything at

Meanwhile, tonight I’ll be reading, thinking and pondering over a quiet drink courtesy of that minibar over there [points]. If I have any amazing insights I’ll let you know.

I may even so an impromptu Stilgherrian Live Alpha later this evening. Watch Twitter for the announcement.

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Politics & Technology Forum with Matt Bai, Canberra, 25 June 2008

… for Australia’s inaugural Politics & Technology Forum on 25 June. It’s being sponsored by Microsoft, and I’m going as their guest. Apparently I continue to fool them.

The keynote is by Matt Bai, political writer for the New York Times magazine, followed by two panel discussions.

Panel 1 is on “Blogging, social networks, political movements and the media”, with Brett Solomon from GetUp!; Annabel Crabb from the Sydney Morning Herald; Peter Black from QUT; spin doctor Mark Textor of Crosby Textor, who ran the Howard government’s failed re-election campaign; and the editor of Crikey Jonathan Green. It’ll be nice to finally meet my editor!

Panel 2 is “Politics 2.0: information technology and the future of political campaigning”, with Joe Hockey, the Liberal member for North Sydney; Senator Andrew Bartlett of the Australian Democrats; Labor Senator Kate Lundy (ACT); and election analyst extraordinaire Antony Green. Very scary indeed.

At this stage it looks like I’ll be heading to Canberra on 24 June and staying overnight. If this is of interest, please register as a stalker in the usual way.

Here’s an idea. If could organize a Flash Rave at Sydney Town Hall yesterday with hundreds of people, it should be possible to organize a Flash Chant of “Howard, time to go!” during the AFL Grand Final this afternoon.

Here’s how:

  • Spread the word fast. We’ve 4 hours.
  • Focus on telling people in Melbourne, or who have friends in Melbourne, and AFL fans.
  • Spread the word using every social network you have — SMS, MySpace, Facebook, whatever. (But don’t spam people you know won’t be interested. Choose wisely.)
  • It’d be way cool if the chant was running once TV returned to the game after GetUp! screen their Climate Clever-er ad, or when John Howard was on screen. That means someone should organize someone who’s watching the game on TV to tell people at the ground when it happens. Have a brief trigger-word SMS ready to send instantly.
  • Everyone needs to be chanting the same thing: “Howard, time to go!”
  • If it’s loud enough, during a quiet part of the game, you get national TV coverage!

The crowd for Geelong versus Port Power will presumably have a working-class bias. Everyone will be hyped up for The Big Day anyway. It shouldn’t be too hard to make this happen.

I’ve just created so it’s easier to spread the word, too.

Update: The website has been online less than 2 hours and already it’s received 600 unique visitors. Scary.

Climate Clever-er TVC

GetUp! has raised over $200,000 to show this spoof TV advert during the AFL Grand Final tomorrow. It’s a send-up of the government’s glossy promo which tries to give the impression they’re doing something about climate change.

While it may not be screened many times during the game, I reckon the fact that “ordinary Australians” have chipped in to make it possible is newsworthy — which will in turn get the advert shown for free all over the place. Sweet.