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Australia’s Save the Internet Campaign Continues

Written by:
Alistair Prescott
Published on:
Feb/20/2009

If you have been reading Gambling911.com over the past couple of months, you're well aware of the precedent that may be set in a country that could be sent into the Dark Age, just behind North Korea, with the flip of a switch.  That's if a few local politicians have their way.  So far, they haven't quite gotten what they want.  It's all been headaches up to this point.   

Nevertheless, one needs to understand that Testing has already begun on systems that will slow the Internet down in Australia by up to 87 percent, make it more expensive, miss the vast majority of inappropriate content and accidentally block up to 1 in 12 legitimate sites, including online gambling sites.

"Our children deserve better protection - and that won't be achieved by wasting millions on this deeply flawed system," points out GetUp.org.

Their mission is to "give everyday Australians opportunities to get involved and hold politicians accountable on important issues."

In many ways, GetUp.org is the Australian version of US-based iMEGA.org, a trade organization whose primary focus right now is to help get online gambling prohibition repealed.  But they too fear the censorship zealots, mostly at the state level.

Just as in Australia, the United States commonwealth of Kentucky attempted, not only to censor online gambling websites, but also seize them.

Freedom on the Internet advocates pretty much agree that any attempts to stymie Web usage via censorship has wide spread implications.  The seed may be planted in porn, but soon every website becomes a porn site.

Last week, Echo Publisher, David Lovejoy, wrote the following "Letter to the Public", echoing concerns over Internet censorship.

Senator Stephen Conroy is the Telecommunications Minister in the Rudd government. He has not been a success in the portfolio. There are longstanding problems with the licensing of broadcast television and with Telstra's intransigence over broadband access, which remain as intractable now as they were under the Liberal government's various ineffectual ministers.

But Senator Conroy has more in common with the most prominent of Howard's buffoons, Richard Alston, than mere incompetence. Both ministers - along with moral campaigners like Julian McGauran, Brian Harradine and Fred Nile - fervently believe that the internet should be censored by the government.

Their initial pretext for tampering with the web (along similar lines to the notorious Chinese firewall) was protecting children. Naturally, paedophilia was cited as the main danger from the internet and, just like Alston, Conroy uses the perversion to smear his critics. When announcing the plan he argued defensively, 'If people equate freedom of speech with watching child pornography, then the Rudd Labor Government is going to disagree.'

Web experts argue that the censoring filters will degrade internet performance and be easily countered by those determined to do so. Civil libertarians point out that parents, not the state, should be deciding what children may watch; attempting to control every citizen's web use is technically difficult and does, indeed, raise legitimate questions of freedom of speech.
Nobody is arguing for child pornography, but Conroy wants to ban much more, and not just pictures of explicit adult sex. He proposes to ban all 'illegal' sites without even specifying the criteria for judging them so. What is more, even the list of such sites will itself be subject to censorship - for security reasons. In the bad old days of censorship enforced by customs officers, we did at least know which books were on the proscribed list. Now anonymous political functionaries are to compile a secret index of prohibited information. A little thought suffices to show that the twin obsessions of terrorism and paedophilia are being used to bring in oppressive legislation that has no place in a free society. Fear of terrorism has led to show trials, secret trials, imprisonment without trial, and torture. Moral panic whipped up over paedophilia has seen policemen invading art galleries and adult males hesitating even to smile in public at children not their own. Terrorism and child pornography are despicable crimes but they are not as common as censorship enthusiasts pretend, and we should not give up our freedoms to appease them.

Senator Conroy's plan is a bad one and is driven by minority interests. Only extremists in the Christian lobby defend it (probably because they initiated it in the first place); most people realise it is unworkable and inequitable. For more information, and to help oppose censorship, visit www.getup.org.au

Alistair Prescott, Gambling911.com 

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