If you use Twitter, you may have noticed a bunch of people are using avatars with an X across their mouths. This is a protest against the Australian Government’s plans to implement an internet content filter. This plan places a blanket of censorship across the internet which will, no doubt, have unforeseen consequences – and puts our access to information on a par with China and Iran. (My friend CK, pictured, has joined in, and I would encourage others to do the same.)
For example, when travelling in China I found that I was unable to access my blog. It is not like I write dissenting material. I put it down, in the end, to the title of the blog – Servant of Chaos. It seems China does not approve of chaos. And I am concerned that this “new Australia” may follow suit.
Furthermore, once internet filtering is in place, what safeguards will we have over excessive filtering? What rights of recourse will we have to follow to have our websites “white listed”? And how much will this cost? Is this perhaps a veiled attempt to “control the conversation” emanating from a growing and more vocal constituency via blogs and social media?
While this may be alarmist, remember, we are now just emerging from a time where political debate was managed according to “core” and “non-core” promises. It is disappointing to think that some of the first digital steps of a new government are those being contemplated by Stephen Conroy. It is frightening to consider where this may lead, or more importantly, what impact it will have on our nation’s innovation and place in a global knowledge economy.
There are more details on The Australian’s website where I left the following comment:
So our government is aiming to spend more than $40 million dollars of taxpayer money on technology which can be circumvented and does not achieve their stated aims?
Why not invest this money in the FUTURE of our country? Put it into the ailing education systems and teach our kids how to safely use the Internet. Or use it to bulk purchase the XO Laptop — which would deliver 200,000 computers into the hands of kids who cannot afford them.
As the saying goes, give a man a fish and his hunger will be satisfied (for now). Teach him to fish and he will feed his community.
We have just had 12 years of feeding. It is time to fish.