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Cheers - AE

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

'Clean Feed' pilot coming

I haven't blogged about this but it's something I was going to talk about once before and then for a while it looked like it wasn't going to happen at all. Now we're about to get the pilot so I've come back to it.

The clean feed is basically internet censorship, pure and simple. It's the responsibility, if not bastard brainchild, of Authoritarian Lackwit Party Australian Labour Party Senator Stephen Conroy, and in my opinion he's either a complete window licker who must have been born yesterday to believe that this loony scheme will work, a gold plated sucker who has been so completely taken in by some slick internet filtering salesmen that he can't bear to go back on it and admit he's been taken (along with the Australian taxpayers) for a ride, or a thoroughly nasty authoritarian nanny stater who doesn't give a rip that the whole idea is hopelessly flaw ridden because we poor stupid citizens need our hands held out there in the howwible electwonic world of the internet. You might be able to tell by now that I'm not fully in support of this.

The reasons I'm against this are simple. First, for various reasons broadband internet connection in Australia is a bit hit and miss, is often not as fast as customers would like, and is fairly pricey compared to the UK. Conroy is also responsible for increasing broadband coverage but would rather fuck around playing Nanny and putting in filters which will (a) slow everyone's connection speed and (b) cost the ISPs money which they will inevitably pass on to their customers. The sometimes less than speedy and generally pricy Australian internet connections will become slower and more expensive. This is not speculation, and note the important item in that link - the better the filter at handling illegal/inappropriate content the bigger the effect it has on slowing the connection. Thanks Sen Conroy, thanks a fucking bunch. While you're at it would you like to pop round my house tonight and charge me $1000 for jamming my car in 1st gear?

Secondly, it won't fucking work. We can see this from the British example where access to legitimate web pages have been blocked because some mongtard has issued the do-gooder battle cry of "won't someone think of the chiiild-ren" and put them on the IWF black list. Not only that but tests here had the same effect (see above link). We know that a large proportion (circa 10%) of dodgy sites will slip through the cracks while a smaller but still significant proportion (1-6%) of innocent sites will be blocked by accident. Let's put that into the context of the war in the Middle East shall we? Imagine if Sen Conroy was involved in the Dept of Defense instead and proposed a new bomb for the RAAF that worked about 90% of the time and would generally inflict up to 6% civilian casualties wherever it was used. Your average ALP supporter would swear they were listening to a right wing abomination who should be taken out into the middle of the Simpson Desert and staked out to roast alive in the sun while going mad from the heat, thirst, pain and carrion feeding on his living flesh. But because it's the internet and this is all "for the chiiild-ren" he's a fucking saint.

Meanwhile, and third, experts are pointing out that the technically savvy can and will find ways to defeat the filtering, and that there are some very tech savvy nonces out there in cyberspace. In fact I'd go further and suggest that the majority of web using pervs and other genuine internet menaces have had to get reasonably savvy. There will have been a kind of Darwinian selection going on among them in that those who have failed to get savvy and learn to cover their tracks have got arrested, jailed and locked in solitary to prevent the rest of the prison kicking the shit out of them too much. Those that are left, I think it's safe to assume, are those who've learned how not to get caught. Needless to say such opinions are ignored, even when it's from real experts rather than some ordinary bloke who's stopped to think about it a bit. As one blogger puts it:
Real-world experience in everything from spam filters to the record industry’s futile attempts to stop copyright violations always shows that filters only block casual users. Professionals, the desperate or the persistent will always get through.

However if a politician demands a filter, pretty soon a shiny-suited salesman will appear, ready to sell him a box with “filter” written on the front. It’ll work — well enough for the demo, anyway.

“Look, Minister! Nice Minister. Watch the screen. See? Filter off, bad website is visible. Filter on, bad website gone. Filter off. Child in danger. Filter on. Child happy and safe. Filter off. Voter afraid and angry. Filter on. Voter relaxed and comfortable. Cheque now please.”

Fourth is the phrase "illegal and inappropriate content" that keeps cropping up. Inappropriate? That sounds very much like it's synonymous with "perfectly legal but we don't want you to see it or think you can handle it if we let you". Who the fuck is the government to decide what we can or can't look at in our homes? Who the fuck are they to decide that something legal may not be appropriate? More worryingly the black lists (there are two... that we know of) are not going to be available to the public. So not only will we not be able to look at some online content, we won't even know what and how much we are being prevented from seeing. Nor will we know what is being added to the lists (it's a given that not very much will be taken off) and when. I'm not the only one to find this worrying - what's to stop the government putting opposition websites on the black lists in the future? Not necessarily the current government but you put in legislation like this that can be misused in the future at your peril. What if some mad British born ex-pat who migrated to Oz miraculously became PM and put the ALP's own website on the black list? Rudd and Conroy don't seem to have considered this.

Fifth this is a lowest common denominator approach. Personally I don't use the web for porn but I'm pretty certain I won't be screwed up, shocked or scarred if I did, nor upset if I stumbled across porn by accident (which I have done when I tried to guess the URL for Guy Ritchie's film Snatch - you can guess the sort of content I found before I got it right, but I'm laughing about the experience rather than seeing a shrink). As such I really don't care if the guy next door, my best mate, my wife or anyone else, including Stephen Conroy for all I know or care, likes a little online smut (providing obviously that participants are willing and consenting adults). But because the internet is accessible to anyone old enough to switch a computer on the fucking government intends to treat everybody like fucking toddlers. Look, I'm in my 30s and I've been to German sex shows and watched some hard core Dutch porn, and if I choose to do so again it's my decision and I should not be prevented from doing so by this brainless one-size-doesn't-fit-anyone policy of yours. Fuck off, you patronizing bastards. Fuck. Off. And. Die.

Sixth is the anti-nanny state argument. Whose children are you protecting? They are not children of the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia you vile cunts, they are the children of regular Australians. It is a parental responsibility to keep an eye on what websites children look at in the same way that it is to be aware of what games they play, what TV they watch and whose company they keep. Yes, the internet is technical and challenging for some parents, but Jesus Christ how technical do you need to be to look over their shoulders now and again? And if you're concerned how technical must you be to pull the fucking plug out of the wall? Or to stop paying the bill for the internet connection? And if they go round a friend's house or the library or use computers at school believe you me I can come up with ways to block them. You don't need to be a computer geek to do this, you just need to be a fucking parent*. If Australians actually wanted filters they'd have flocked to take up John Howard's home based filter offer, and that was so unpopular that it cost thousands of dollars of taxpayers money per installation. Of course, I'm sure that at the time the ALP derided it as an expensive and unworkable waste of time.

I could go on but you get the drift. One of the good things about Australia is/was that compared to the UK the internet is pretty unrestricted. I have to say is/was because it's in the process of becoming as bad as the UK, or more likely rather worse. Up till now I've been optimistic that this lunacy was going to die on its arse because the big three ISPs have pulled out of the trials. Unfortunately, but typically for politicians of any flavour, no bugger is going to go back on what they've said and admit the whole thing is a waste of time and money. Risk upsetting the Helen Lovejoys of Australia? Christ, you'd think they were the only ones who had a vote. The really weird thing is that this is another example of Australia's schizo society. I could go to a local licensed brothel and, assuming she was willing and I didn't mind the price, pay some girl maybe ten or fifteen years younger than me to be tied up in leather thongs and take it up the shit chute. In Victoria, and indeed most of Australia, this is perfectly legal (licensed brothels anyway - street prostitution is still illegal in this state, and I think the others too). But if Conroy and Rudd could have their wish granted it would be impossible to go home and watch someone else to the same thing on the web. This half formed thought is brought to you courtesy of the ALP.

More information on Conroy's Clean Feed is available at, Somebody Think Of The Children and a good article here on ZDNet Australia.

* Which, as I've said before, I'm not. But come on, it doesn't take a fucking genius to work it out. Until kids leave home and unless they run away they are in your power because it's your money they live on. I'm sure hearing "I hate you" from recently grounded and disconnected offspring must be heart wrenching, but fuck it. Your house, your rules, their choice to bugger off when they're older. Such is life.
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