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Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Censor news, and for a change it's good.



Despite my occasional pessimism that everyone in Australia is going to be treated as a retard incapable of having any contact with a computer or the internet without government nannying things are looking up. First, good news for Australian gamers - Michael Atkinson, the principle barrier to getting an R18+ classification for games, has resigned. I've blogged before on Australia's nannyish attitude to computer games and how even games aimed at adults have had to be altered to suit the squeamish attitudes of the Puritan fuckwits here (see here and here). Finally those gamers who are perhaps more than 20 years older than the current maximum age classification have a realistic chance of being able to buy an unedited, not specially ruined for Australia, copy of Demon Zombie Smash Hack Blam 3 or whatever.
R18+ video games are a step closer to being allowed in Australia following the resignation of South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson.

Mr Atkinson's decision to leave the front bench means he will no longer be in a position to vote on changes to the country's classification system, including the introduction of an R18+ rating for games.
As a quick refresher to save anyone picking through my other posts on this, the relevance of one resignation at the state level is that to create a new R18+ classification for games all states must agree, and this decision is up to the Attorneys-General. Fuck knows why but the practical upshot was that Michael Atkinson was opposed to it and that meant that in theory everyone in the whole country could have personally written to Kevin Rudd demanding it and he'd have been able to do precisely fuck all, his hands being legally tied by one politician in a state government. Now in some ways this need for unanimity is not a bad thing - if used to prevent loss of liberty I'd be heaving a sigh of relief. In this instance it's been the other way around. of course, South Australia may replace Atkinson with someone else who feels the same way but hopefully they've sussed the mood. Part of it is that the Australian Labor Party (please donate any spare lower case 'u's here) got a bit of a shoeing in the state elections in South Australia and Tasmania.

The decision came after voters gave the Rann Government a kicking in last weekend's state election. Mr Atkinson won his seat of Croydon comfortably but still suffered a 14.3 per cent swing against him, according to ABC reports.
Heh. It's a safe seat, won by Atkinson in 2006 with a 6.8 swing in his favour. To lose all that and then more than the same again has to be significant. Not that a politician would ever admit that.
Mr Atkinson said he was stepping down so there could be "renewal" in the Government's leadership and so he could spend more time with his family, including his son Johnno.

"He was supposed to play his first (soccer) game last night at 7pm and like so many times in my time in Parliament I wasn't there," Mr Atkinson said yesterday.

"I am pretty disappointed about that.

"So I resolved that every time Johnno walks on the pitch this year his dad is going to be there even if it embarrasses the hell out of him."
Depends on whether the other kids start chasing you around the pitch with Nintendos and pointing behind you and yelling "AAAAAARGH SPACE INVADERS".

That's not all. With Atkinson gone hopefully we won't have to hear any more of this sort of thing.

Dick Puddlecote will be a happy bunny, because the other way of looking at that is that fags are less harmful than videogames. Jesus Christ, what cock socket was behind this? Oh, sorry Michael, was that you too?
A GROUP that says video games and violence are like smoking and lung cancer has received tens of thousands of dollars in funding from politician and outspoken R18+ game critic Michael Atkinson.

An expert from the Australian Council on Children and the Media this week told a TV news program the link between violent games and youth violence was stronger than tobacco and cancer.
Fuck, so that's this year's footy and Rugby League seasons called off, is it? Or is it okay because it's real people?

Twats.
“It’s much greater than the effect of smoking on lung cancer,” psychologist Dr Wayne Warburton said.

It's the strongest claim yet in the war of words over video game ratings which has heated up after a call for public input on the issue that drew 55,000 submissions.

A spokesman for Mr Atkinson told news.com.au his department provided an annual grant to the council under its trading name Young Media Australia.

The grant is to support a project called “Know Before You Go” that offers parents information about which films are suitable for children.

Mr Atkinson’s spokesman could not say how much the grant was for and declined to provide an estimate, however fellow Labor MP Gay Thompson previously put the figure at up to $33,000.

"The South Australian Attorney-General recently provided $33,000 for the project ‘Know Before You Go’," she told parliament in 2006.
I'm almost certain that it would be more accurate to say that this group has received funds from South Australian taxpayers courtesy of Michael Atkinson, though if it turns out he gave them $33 grand of his own cash I'll happily correct this. In the meantime this should delight Dick Puddlecote, Leg-iron and other smoky people. Great news guys, smoking is less harmful than playing videogames.

The final icing on this cake, and probably the most important of all*, is that apparently Michael Atkinson also had a hand in this frankly rather scary law.
SOUTH Australian laws censoring anonymous political comment on the internet have sparked national and international outrage, with readers comparing the "draconian laws'' to those in Nazi Germany and China.

Well over 1000 people had posted comments on the AdelaideNow website up to midnight last night - most vehemently against the Rann Government's legislation which will force internet bloggers and anyone publishing a comment on next month's state election to supply their real name and postcode.

A poll reveals more than 90 percent of readers are against the laws, which carry a maximum fine of $5,000 for media organisations who do not hand over such information to the Electoral Commissioner.

In an extraordinary response to the story, readers have compared the law to those used in Nazi Germany, China, George Orwell's 1984 and North Korea, including Mark Burns Springer from the United States.
What the cunting fuck were they thinking over there? They sure as fuck can't blame it on smoking weed because I imagine the Puritan State will be the last one in Australia to accept legalising a bit of puff. Atkinson, to my not especially great surprise, was all for it.
Attorney-General Michael Atkinson said the law would not impinge on free speech and claimed that he expected The Advertiser and AdelaideNow to "publish false stories about me, invent things about me to punish me''.

Mr Atkinson described AdelaideNow as "not just a sewer of criminal defamation'' but also "a sewer of identity theft and fraud''.

In a press conference today, Mr Atkinson said the law was "all about honesty''.

...

The state Liberal Party - which supported the law - also drew fire from readers.
Maybe I'm wrong about the puff. Anyway, it didn't last long.
ATTORNEY-GENERAL Michael Atkinson will move immediately to repeal controversial laws which sparked an outcry over censorship of the internet.

After backing down late last night to say the laws would not be put into effect, Mr Atkinson told reporters he would follow the advice of Opposition legal affairs spokeswoman Vickie Chapman and use a section of the Electoral Act to immediately repeal the section.

Earlier, Mr Atkinson said it would be repealed but could not do it until after the election and had promised that no action would be taken against internet users during the election campaign.
Not completely mad after all then. And in fairness I have to give him credit for this (my emphasis):
"I will immediately after the election move to repeal the law retrospectively."

Mr Atkinson said the law would not be enforced for comments posted on AdelaideNow during the upcoming election campaign, even though it was technically applicable.

"It may be humiliating for me, but that's politics in a democracy and I'll take my lumps," he continued in the statement.

"This way, no one need fear now that they are being censored on the net or in blogs, whether they blog under their own name or anonymously. The law will be repealed retrospectively.
I think he's a paternalist and patronising tool, but he's got more guts than some (probably most in Westminster).

Of course none of this changes Australia's other big censorship project, the Great Firewall of Australia. This proposed ISP level, government controlled filter is Senator Stephen Conroy's pet project (blogged at length more than once - see this tag), and in turn is one of the main reasons why I believe Senators (or 'Senatopeers' as I called them since I was talking about the UK), who should be part of the brake on the power of the government, should not be allowed to serve in the government unless they want to give up their seat and contest one in the Lower House. Conroy is determined that he knows what's best for everyone in Australia and is appearing on The 7pm Project tomorrow night tonight to try to sell it to us all. It's not mentioned on their site but I caught a trailer and it looks like I wasn't the only one. Conroy is as determined as Atkinson was over the R18+ certificate, and being a Senator he's not easy to get rid of. I'm hoping to be home in time to watch and I do hope The 7pm Project hosts grill the bastard properly. The fact that Google has both given up co-operating with Chinese censorship and, with Yahoo!, attacked the Australian filter plans should give them some decent ammo.
Both Google and Yahoo say the government's plans to introduce a mandatory internet filter threaten to restrict legitimate access to information.

"Our primary concern is that the scope of content to be filtered is too wide," Google said.

...

Google said that while protecting the free exchange of ideas and information could not be without some limits, people should retain the right to freedom of expression.
This is something else I'm planning a post on but I can do a quick summary for Google right here and now. Whenever anyone says they're all for free speech and then adds the words 'but', 'however' or 'as long as' at the end what they're actually saying is that they support free speech as long as it's speech they find agreeable. Freedom of speech is an absolute, a black and white issue in an all too often grey world. If you have no restrictions on speech then it's free, simple as. If there are restrictions then by definition it is not free. You might say it's mostly free, and that's true in a literal sense, but it's just as true to use a term like 'only moderately restricted'. This is 'slightly pregnant' stuff, fellas. 'Free exchange of ideas and information' can, and should, and fucking well must be without limits, because otherwise it's not actually free, d'you see? Like being able to buy land and do what you like with it I regard this as a litmus test of my libertarianism - if I can stand to see something I loathe and vehemently disagree with in print, on TV or on the web, even though I might wish it hadn't been said and that the speaker contracts some virulent genital pox, then I guess I'm still supporting free speech. The day I think 'they shouldn't be allowed to say that' I'll be too ashamed to call myself libertarian.

Google, stop knocking cocks with the politicians and tell 'em the facts. You're supposed to be the 'do no evil' people, remember? Fucking live up to it.
"Some limits, like child pornography, are obvious. No Australian wants that to be available - and we agree."
Want? It's not a matter of what we want - it's there. We don't want car crashes either but the solution isn't to dig up the roads or put a speed bump every 50m on the freeway. Child porn is revolting and evil and, sadly, a fact of life. By all means go after the sick bastards who produce it by raping kids, and if - if - they violently resist arrest (oh please) then I wouldn't shed a tear if the result was a couple of well aimed 9mm rounds in the cunt's chest. But it's almost certain, as Conroy himself has admitted, that the filter will not achieve this. Oh sure, it might catch some less net savvy perverts but they'd be what you might call low hanging fruit and most or all will have been caught by now. As I wrote just over a year ago,
...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.
Yep, the ones to worry about are the ones using proxies, TORs and other means to avoid the firewall, which will be giving them the added bonus of lulling a lot of people into a false sense of security. Hey, we've got the firewall now so let little Johnny chat away on IM to this other (4)9 year old that he met online. Well done everybody, fucking well done.

Unfortunately Google apparently didn't mention any of these points and just said they were already taking steps and that it'd bugger things up for the millions of innocent net users.
The company said it already had a global, all-product ban against child sexual abuse material which it filtered out from search results and removed from its products.

"But moving to a mandatory ISP level filtering regime with a scope that goes well beyond such material is heavy-handed and can raise genuine questions about restrictions on access to information."

The company also said the introduction of a mandatory filtering regime could negatively impact on user access speeds.
Joined in quick order by Yahoo!
"We are concerned that the scope of content to be filtered is too wide," the company's submission said.

Senator Conroy has said the filtering plan was about blocking access to material on the Refused Classification or banned content list, such as child sexual abuse imagery, sexual violence and detailed instruction in crime.

Yahoo said it was entirely supportive of any efforts to make the internet a safer place for children.

But the company said mandatory filtering of all banned material could block content with a strong social, political and/or educational value.

It could block access to safe injecting and other harm minimisation websites, euthanasia discussion forums, anti-abortion websites, as well as legitimate discussions of the geo-political causes of terrorism.

"Clearly some of this content is controversial and, depending on one's political beliefs, rather offensive. However, we maintain that there is enormous value in this content being available to encourage debate and inform opinion," the company said.
Good, though I still think someone from Google or Yahoo! could have pointed out that even if this government doesn't abuse the power - and I'm not holding my breath - with these mechanisms in place there's nothing to stop a future government from doing so. The question to Kevin Rudd (because I don't see much value in dealing with Conroy) should be: would you trust the Liberals and Nationals with this? Would you trust a far right party? If the answer is anything other than an enthusiastic yes then it should be obvious that the fucking thing needs to go, as does the swivel eyed window licker who wants to inflict it on us all.


* And yes, I was busy when the news came out and forgot to blog about it. Bad Exile. Bad.

5 comments:

Dick Puddlecote said...

Smoking is now suffering the same fate as McDonalds in food terms. It's the benchmark for righteous scaremongering. "More dangerous than ..." etc.

It did make me laugh this week, though, when an article I read (sorry, too tired to google) talked of air pollution killing more people than passive smoking. Not hard really considering there hasn't been a single confirmed death from being in a smokey pub.

Or, as the Filthy Smoker once said over at DK's place, "That was the problem with pubs before the smoking ban, it was hard to get to the bar with all the dead bodies in the way"

;-)

TheBigYin said...

I just had to pinch your video for using over at our place Exile. DP, hows you mate, thought the Exile's blogspot would tickle you.

Angry Exile said...

BigYin, you're welcome mate. I must pop over for a look.

evision said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Angry Exile said...

Wow, the URL for what appears to be a university in India. How insightful. When Blogger has stopped dicking around it will be deleted.

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