Censorship Of The Internet in Australia

This email has been sent today to The Hon Senator Stephen Conroy,

Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy



Dear Minister

As a fully employed, independently funded senior citizen, I am deeply concerned about the proposed Censorship of the Internet in Australia, under your proposed “Clean Feed” strategy.

 Over the past few weeks, I watched with interest the tactics employed by Telstra as it appeared to try and force the Government into a corner regarding their participation in the proposed broadband installation across Australia and you, as the Minister, were very forthright in your condemnation of their apparent failure to comply with the terms and conditions of the proposed Tender.  I watched you, night after night, answering Questions in the House, and making it clear that it is your intention to ensure that whoever participates in the new broadband rollout will be those who have complied with clearly stated provisions of acceptance and clearly stated provisions of their ability to provide.   

This is admirable, but in the face of the proposed new censorship of internet traffic, through filtering at ISP level, flies in the face of the commercial benefits that faster broadband is intended to bring to the Australian business community and Australian households. 

At a time when Australia faces the greatest recession that the world has seen since the 1930’s, we need to take every step available to remain competitive in business and especially in terms of being able to communicate through eCommerce.  The internet is not just an integral part of our businesses – in some cases it is THE business. 

As a financial planner dealing with large investment houses, institutions and fund managers through the internet for many hours of every day, I need to be able to maintain my dealings and those of my staff with not only the greatest security but also with great speed.  In the past few months, you cannot have been unaware of the speed with which share prices have fallen, interest rates have varied and business dealings have needed to be carried out as quickly as possible.  The Internet has brought a level of efficiency and cost effectiveness to financial and export markets that cannot be underestimated. 

Australia cannot afford to lose even a few minutes of its commercial edge, in financial matters. 

As a constant user of the Internet, I have to say that the few times I have accidently stumbled across the kind of sites your proposed Censorship intends to “filter out” have been very few and far between.  In general, if one is properly educated about using the Internet, learns not to click on unknown invitations from flashy banners (most of which can be easily managed with proprietary software) and does not deliberately search for sex and pornography, it is seldom encountered. 

The fact is that you will never be able to filter every (or even most) of the sites that promote pornography and violence, because they can be taken down and reloaded far faster than any filter programme can find and block them.  The money can be far better spent in encouraging parents to take more responsibility in what their children see and where their children go, on the net.  The money can be far better spent by helping to subsidise software that does filter at the level where it is more effective: the personal home PC. 

The money that will be spent on this proposed Censorship smacks loudly of the kind of internet interference to free transmission against which we so loudly spoke during the Beijing Olympics – where, for a brief time, censorship was reduced.  Now, sadly, China is reverting to its hard line rule of the past; dissidents are being rounded up and jailed; internet activity is highly regulated. How do we know?  The Internet gives us the freedom and the opportunity of communication with individuals and groups outside Australia to learn and be informed.

There is also a great deal of concern as to the contagion that can spread both philosophically as well as economically, when Censorship is employed without total transparency. Where the costs of Government intervention are passed back to the private commercial and household sector and where our ISP can simply be “instructed” to block an IP address, and those either side of it, for good measure, in an effort to prevent electronic access by all individuals, (children and adults alike), we will suffer severe financial damage. 

What happens when the Government of the day (Labor or Liberal or whomever) decides to “silence” its critics over some specific issues?  Who then decides which IP addresses are to be blocked, because they are critical of the incumbent Government and its policies.  Is this what Australia is to become?  Is this what we can expect from a Labor Government? Australian Citizens must not be impeded from research, communication, criticism of Government of any persuasion, or be hampered and restrained in their pursuit of information and knowledge. We will not enter the shadowy world of Government censorship of the type seen in Nazi Germany and employed today in countries like China and North Korea.  

Minister Conroy, I urge you in the strongest terms to find alternative methods to achieve your good intentions of protecting children from those who seek to harm and corrupt them.  But I have not a shred of doubt that your proposed “Clean Feed” strategy is not the way to achieve your aims and will damage our economy to a degree that is irreconcilable with the need to protect us from the present Global Credit Crisis and the recession that is sweeping the world. 

Please find a different answer to your concerns. 

Thank you 

Lesley Dewar

About Lesley Dewar

Passionate about story telling and getting kids involved with adventures to improve their self esteem and self-confidence Blogger, Author, Networker, Social Media, Activist.
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8 Responses to Censorship Of The Internet in Australia

  1. Pingback: » Censorship Of The Internet in Australia

  2. ozatheist says:

    excellent letter, we all hope that Conroy may eventually see sense and dump his ridiculous idea.

  3. Danny Innis says:

    Very nicely done. Thank you for sounding a warning in Australia. As an American, I become very concerned when someone suggests more laws and regulatory control than necessary here in the United States as a means to protect the public. Overall, it’s been readily broadcasted here by internet providers, in advertisements on TV and even by newsbroadcasters that it’s the parents’ responibility to oversee what children see and what chat rooms they access or to whom they are “talking” to on the net. As far as commercial activities go, those who engage in online transactions should always be careful and on guard for fraud. Government is, indeed, useful in prosecuting those who violate trust; but as far as detection and prevention goes, the people are responsible. Politicians should not set up a new set of government powers that can be abused and enhance future despotism. Freedom reigns when personal responsibility reigns.

  4. Lesley Dewar says:

    Message sent today to the Prime Minister of Australia, through his own website.

    Mr Rudd

    I am deeply concerned about the plan to censor the internet. I have written to The Hon Stephen Conroy and you can read my letter in detail here: http://is.gd/dG3C .

    Through the internet itself, we are giving this matter great attention, because although the intentions are undoubtedly good, the method is deeply flawed.

    Mr Rudd, I urge you to have the Hon. Minister find an alternative solution to his concerns.

    Please leave your comments on other websites as well as here – because we must build an awareness in the Government that their plans are counter-intuitive for business. http://is.gd/dG3C

  5. Andy Chiodo says:

    The idea of censorship is anathematic to anyone who believes in the importance of communication. There are remedies to the concerns voiced by the Hon. Mr. Conroy, which involve taking personal responsibility for watching out for who goes where.

    If it is too much trouble for those who have concerns to monitor the activities of the people for whom they fear horrible consequences, perhaps they need to ask themselves this question “Am I responsible for the people I am worried about, or is the entire world to be shut out based on my inability to accept that responsibility?”

    And, there is the concern voiced by Plato in regard to those who seek to take charge of their fellow citizens — “Who will guard that guardians?”

  6. Lesley Dewar says:

    Thank you, Andy.
    This kind of Government action is highly symptomatic of the plague that infects society in many ways: I am not responsible for my own actions and who else can I blame for the outcome of my actions? Better still, who can I sue, to compensate me for the outcome of my own actions. There is some blame to be attached to the ‘ambulance chasing lawyers’ in our society, too – who deliberately foster the idea that every unfortunate outcome should, in some way, attract a financial compensation, in which they undoubtedly will share.

  7. Lesley Dewar says:

    Thank you, Danny. Part of the issue arises, I believe, because in many cases parents have allowed a personal PC to take the place of the TV as a “babysitter” in the home. While the TV option is not entirely to be recommended, the fact is that too many children have complete, unfettered access to the internet from the privacy of their own bedrooms – where parents have no idea of what they see or where they surf – and lawyers and those who promote “children’s rights” foster the notion that within the home, the parent has “no right” to intrude into the child’s privacy – whether it is the physical space of the room itself or the cyberspace the child chooses to visit. The role of a parent is to protect its child from harm and if that means restricting their access to chat rooms, websites and various video games, then that parent is carrying out its responsibility towards its child – with love. Tantrums, feet kicking and screaming, notwithstanding.

  8. Lesley Dewar says:

    Thank you. One of my own ISPs is iinet and they have volunteered for this “experiment”. It will be interesting to see what effect the filter has on my own internet access and which of my usual sites are not available to me. I will be maintaining a daily diary of internet interference and I suggest that everyone else does the same.

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