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 Post subject: Bye-Bye Clean Feed!
 Post Posted: Sun Mar 01, 2009 7:55 am 
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So, what does it take to stop internet censorship in Australia? It takes an anti-gambling Independent, and an unholy alliance between the Greens and the Liberal Party in the senate. You heard me. Not even a leaked report about how fundamentally flawed the very idea was could make a dent in the Conroy Convoy.

I will admit, I am so very, very glad that the cards have lined up so nicely to ensure that there's no way legislation can get through on this matter, but what I don't get is how an idea that only 4% of the Australian population wasn't nipped in the bud by the ruling party? Why on earth did it take nearly every non-government senator fighting against it?

I despair at my country's leaders, I swear. It wouldn't have worked, it couldn't have worked, the nation would have been in uproar if it was implemented, it would entirely negate the new super-fast broadband network, and they still kept trying to push it. What the hell?

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 Post subject: Re: Bye-Bye Clean Feed!
 Post Posted: Sun Mar 01, 2009 12:41 pm 
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I guess it's true everywhere. There are no limits to how far some people will go to try to protect others wether they want or need that protection. God forbid someone should be able to make up their own mind what is appropriate or not.

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 Post subject: Re: Bye-Bye Clean Feed!
 Post Posted: Sun Mar 01, 2009 3:24 pm 
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Chaosman, that can't be the entire problem here. Notice that one of the parties that dug in against this bill was the Greens. The Greens are traditionally the kind of people who come up with nanny state "interests of society" policies, aren't they?

I suspect that a bigger part of the problem is a deep disconnect between what politicians think the world is like, as a group, and what the general public thinks. A vast majority of politicians are men in their forties, fifties, or sixties. Many of them do not clearly understand what the Internet is or how it works. That makes them dependent on "executive summaries" that suppress important information. Some aide gives them a one page document that amounts to saying "this bill is supposed to block filthy, illegal content on the Internet in Australia," and that's all they really know. Blocking filthy content (much of which happens to be illegal) just doesn't sound bad enough to people who aren't hardcore civil libertarians.

They don't understand the practical issues (why this bill won't work as intended). They aren't familiar with how immensely useful sites like Wikipedia are, so they don't automatically think "will this bill interfere with ordinary Internet use?" They don't understand the physical infrastructure of the Internet; even most Internet users don't. So their natural reaction is to assume that the those clever boffins actually have a way to block filthy content that is illegal to possess, without imposing major restrictions on legitimate use. That's how this bill is being pitched to them by people they expect to know.
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To make matters worse (rant follows):

Australia does not have a formalized constitutional text equivalent to the Bill of Rights in the US. Like many British-based parliamentary democracies, the country relies heavily on an extended tradition of civil liberty to guide lawmakers, and depends on the election process instead of the law to enforce that.

I believe that that approach leads to exactly this kind of thing happening. The Australian government would most likely not make such a plan to set up a board that censors the content of books. It is entirely legal to write a book depicting an illegal and deeply immoral act in Australia, as I understand it.

And there's a tradition along those lines. It's not centuries old, but at least it exists. Legal battles fought over books that the old Victorians considered obscene have created that tradition during the past 80 to 100 years. Because there is a tradition, the parliamentary system handles it reasonably well.

But there's no tradition directly applicable to Internet content. The ease of producing and distributing content on the Internet changes the rules of the game. Parliament doesn't know how to handle it. Which leaves them hideously vulnerable to loudmouths who assure them that they do know how to handle it.
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 Post subject: Re: Bye-Bye Clean Feed!
 Post Posted: Sun Mar 01, 2009 7:40 pm 
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Kirby, be happy that they gave up on the idea there. We actually have the censorship working here in Finland. It's voluntary for the internet providers to use the censorship but some choose to block the sites on the list that is maintained by the National Bureau of Investigation. The outrageus thing is that most of the sites on the list are completely legal and have nothing to do with child pornography. Besides strong evidence that the censorship is illegal and not fulfilling its objective most of the parliament and NBI don't seem to care. It's just like Simon_Jester says: these people just don't understand how internet works and are desperate to at least seem to do something about the child pornography.

By the way, also here the greens are one of the groups strongly against the censorship. Most of they are more liberal than the big parties specially when it comes to issues such as freedom of speech.

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 Post subject: Re: Bye-Bye Clean Feed!
 Post Posted: Wed Mar 04, 2009 6:41 am 
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Simon_Jester wrote:
Chaosman, that can't be the entire problem here. Notice that one of the parties that dug in against this bill was the Greens. The Greens are traditionally the kind of people who come up with nanny state "interests of society" policies, aren't they?


I don't know much about the Australian Greens, but not every Green party is the same. The Czech Green party is quite economically right-wing and is currently in coalition with the Civic Democrats and Christian Democrats, for example. This aside; almost every political party advocates government interference, the difference is in when and where they think it should interfere. In my experience, Green parties tend to be strongly in favour of political and civil liberties.

Quote:
They don't understand the practical issues (why this bill won't work as intended). They aren't familiar with how immensely useful sites like Wikipedia are, so they don't automatically think "will this bill interfere with ordinary Internet use?" They don't understand the physical infrastructure of the Internet; even most Internet users don't. So their natural reaction is to assume that the those clever boffins actually have a way to block filthy content that is illegal to possess, without imposing major restrictions on legitimate use. That's how this bill is being pitched to them by people they expect to know.


There's also the fact that they think being ostentatiously anti-paedophile will win a lot of support, particularly from people who aren't internet savvy. There may well be a calculation that gains from this approach will outweigh losses from people who feel their internet freedoms are being removed. It's the same logic that causes governments to repeatedly ignore the advice of scientific research into drug policy.
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Quote:
And there's a tradition along those lines. It's not centuries old, but at least it exists. Legal battles fought over books that the old Victorians considered obscene have created that tradition during the past 80 to 100 years. Because there is a tradition, the parliamentary system handles it reasonably well.


It's interesting to note that, whilst the famous obscenity trial over Lady Chatterly's Lover resulted in a victory for liberty in the UK; it was still banned in Australia for much longer, as was a book about the trial. Australia does still have a board of book censors (though they don't call it that); but I don't know when the last time they banned something was. The UK, on the other hand, is now free of censorship - good old Human Rights Act.

Edit: well, the UK was free of censorship. There's been all sorts of nasty illiberalness in recent Criminal Justice and Terrorism Acts, so I think literature promoting terrorism or describing how to make bombs may now be subject to some form of censorship. And they bought in legislation to ban extreme pornography, recently, too.

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