Some what belatedly (hey I’m travelling!) I’ve changed the layout of my main website http://www.enc.com.au/ so it now has black panels and a little pop-up. It’s all in the name of T he Great Australian Internet Blackout which is a protest about the upcoming Australian Governments Internet Filtering.
As per usual with this sort of thing, the proposed solution will not even meet its rather vague goals, unless you count filtering a 1000 or so websites a “goal”. While the numbers vary, the best estimates is its way over 100 to 200 million websites. So that 1000 is 0.0005, or 1 in 200,000.
The filter is alternatively going to filter reported refused classification material or perhaps “other stuff”; they’ll get back to you on the second one. For the first it works that somone finds a website of sufficient level of classification, reports it to the government and it gets filtered. And how many times have you come across RC websites, just by wandering around? That’s not R rated websites, its not porn, its not even reasonably exotic porn, but stuff that’s downright nasty.
The government, as per usual, has come out with the tired old protect the children rant. The filter doesn’t stop spam, it doesn’t stop weirdos on facebook or MSN chatting up your teenage daughter or son, it filters websites that, unless you or your child is REAL unlucky you will never see; ever.
So why am I against it? Surely filtering RC level websites is great right? And to be honest if that is all this ever was going to be, it’s still a complete waste of my (and if you are an Australian Internet user) your money, but once the filtering is in, there is going to be a line outside the relevant ministers door to filter anything else anyone wants to filter, for example:
- Games that are available outside Australia, if they have not been classified here then they shouldn’t be available here
- Torrent trackers, because the industry would no doubt tell the government that the only thing they’re good for is illegal download of movies or music
- Websites about certain topics that some people would rather not be seen, there is a large mountain of stuff that fits in here depending which crank has their own barrow to push
This sort of filtering while initially seeming ok, will get worse, much much worse. There is not a real strong push from the general public about filtering RC websites, most people see and hate spam much more. If you are an Australian citizen I ask you to visit the The Great Australian Internet Firewall website and write to your local member of parliament.