Thursday, March 19, 2009

There are no slippery slopes, but today's date in Australia ends in 1984

From ClassicallyLiberal:

Australia announced that they were going to have nation-wide Internet censorship to help control child porn. That’s a smart move. Use the child porn fear to scare people and then move on with the true agenda. Now it appears that the blacklist of banned websites has been leaked prior to the ban going into effect. And guess what? Most of the banned sites have nothing to do with child porn. Anyone surprised?

A document that was recently leaked showed that various sites are being banned including poker sites, some YouTube links, regular erotica sites, sites about euthanasia, fringe religious groups, some Christian sites, a tour operator and, for some reason, a Queensland dentist.

The Australian government, anxious to catch up with the police state mentality of Mother England, intends to make Internet filtering mandatory for the entire country and has said they intend to ban access to 10,000 different websites. In fact, Wikileaks was added to the banned list because it told people which sites were banned. As the Australian government sees it, the list of banned sites is itself banned material. People must not be allowed to know what they aren’t allowed to know. Anyone informing the Australian public of what is banned can go to jail for ten years.

Because the list of banned sites is itself banned it is not possible for someone to know they are on the list. Sites put on the list are not told they have been banned, nor do they have any recourse to appeal the banning. One two-bit politician said, “No one interested in cyber safety would condone the leaking of the list.” Apparently, to oppose what amounts to a secret court, capable of banning a website, without any charges being brought, or any defense or appeal being allowed, promotes cyber safety.

Either you believe in freedom of speech, with all its inherent perils, or you drift into being a police state.

Australia has just drifted....

How far behind do you figure we are?

Here's the classic argument against allowing government to get into the net regulation business:

The Internet has thrived in large part because it has managed to sidestep a barrage of efforts to regulate it, including laws to ban indecent material, levy sales tax on e-commerce, require Web sites to provide "zoning" tags, and to criminalize spam, file sharing, and spyware.

Some of these laws have been overturned by the courts; some died before being passed; and the rest--well, the rest are effectively ignored, thanks to the Internet's remarkable ability (so far) to treat regulation as a network failure and reroute around the problem.

But here's my argument: what if the US government--as the Australian government now does--possessed the ability to close down the original Alec Jones website where that now-infamous MIAC militia report was first posted, and then to threaten anybody who linked to it or cross-posted the information?

If you listen to chatter on law enforcement message boards these days, that's exactly the kind of comment you'll hear: How can we do our job if people can leak and publish our material without any consequences?

It may already be 1984 down under, but it's half-past 1983 here.


Hube said...

Steve: It seems that the US is the last hold-out for free speech in the industrialized [Western] world. Thanks goodness for the First Amendment -- at least for now. The SCOTUS could, of course, come to a new "interpretation" of it at any time.

Tyler Nixon said...

Hah, 'Mother England'. We would be wise to keep in mind what it was that made us jettison England to start this thing across the big pond. Australia is becoming like some twisted experimenting ground for totalitarian control in a putatively-free modern 1st world nation.

Re: Alex Jones - I guess we should all begin asking ourselves : "At what point does Alex Jones (and anyone like him preaching against an American police state) go from 'insane' to 'frighteningly prescient'?"

Whatever one thinks of Jones's more fringe conclusions, none of them is cause to discount his efforts wholesale, especially given how his essential opposition to big brother in America is utterly valid. Were it not for him, information like we are discussing may never otherwise see the light of day.

And whatever anyone thinks of Jones it is undeniable the man's got stones.

David said...

Disturbing indeed

Anonymous said...

No one should believe that the american internet is not at stake. Youtube and websites are being taken down here just very quietly. If you have AOL you should get rid of it quick. I have seen many folks on net complaining that AOL had banned them for political speech. They claim that yahoo is small company now but Yahoo, and even GMAIl will be intolerant of certain speech...any speech that is anti zionism or sends messages pro-gaza. There are several forums who had contact with Palestinan TV and independent Palestinan journalists who were sending coverage all over the world during the horrific invasion of Gaza. Some of those people who sent those messages on have been thrown off AOL. There were no foreign reporters permitted into Gaza during the seige. If it had not been for reporters on the ground the world would never have heard from the Norwiegan Doctor, or Doctors without Borders, who reported on white phosperhous bombings, and the huge number of women and children targeted.

We never saw any of that footage on the cable news, NY Times, Washington Post or any mainstream media.

This is one area I know for a fact that has been censored here in America. If you can sensor one issue, how long before something is?