Ostensibly a measure to filter out child pornography, Australia's new net censorship laws will allow the government to manage a blacklist of all the sites it does not want Australians to see and ensure that ISPs block them. The list has not been made public and, as far as I know, never will be. They simply want us to trust them that they're acting in our best interests and 'only' offensive sites will be censored.
Well I don't trust governments to know what is in my best interest (or the best interest of my children) and I certainly don't trust them to censor only offensively pornographic sites. It will only be a matter of time before political sites are on the blacklist (if they are not already). If you give the government the power to control the Internet, you no longer have freedom of information or freedom of speech. If you no longer have freedom of speech, you no longer have democracy. If you don't have democracy, you're stuffed.
The government may even think it is trying to do the right thing with this terrible law but it is not. It is creating the technical and political infrastructure that will allow totalitarian regimes to control our access to information.
This appalling state of affairs is barely mentioned in the media but it is not slipping by unnoticed. A series of protest marches is being organised for 13th November and I urge everyone who can to get out on the streets and let the Australian Labor Party and Kevin Rudd know what we think about this monstrous threat to our freedom.
As for what this says about the moral integrity of the Labor Party, someone calling themselves 'Megaport' writing on the geek site Slashdot put it very nicely. I quote him or her in full:
Just as the USA have lost their moral right to castigate countries who use torture as a tool of statecraft, so too has Australia now given up her right to criticise those authoritarian regimes who would limit the freedom of communication of their citizens.
Given that all the experts (yes, ALL the experts) agree that it won't stop anyone who actually traffics in this despicable content from peddling their filth even for a moment, can anyone here tell me what else we're buying for the price of our moral high ground on this issue?
China will be laughing their socks off at us next time we try to mention the censorship of news and internet in their country - no matter what language our leaders speak the message in.
The point about the ineffectiveness of the measure is actually a good one since there will be many ways for people who actually want child porn to get around it. So you have to ask yourself just why Kevin Rudd wants to go ahead and do this. It can only be that his government would like the general ability to censor material of which it disapproves.