I always stumble when I attempt to talk about things of a political nature. Politics are very complicated, and I think it's difficult to see all sides of a situation, even for those who are experts in political issues. Because of this I try not to touch on real-world politics too much, as I fear being proven wrong, and I sometimes worry I'm misunderstanding situations because I've not seen the whole picture. Even when I do understand the whole story, I can feel that I have nothing new to offer anyhow. But this year, 2009, I am beginning to see a government implemented trend toward a possible Orwellian future for Australia, and it really has me worried.
We are a highly regulated society in Australia. We have mandatory water restrictions, random drug testing for drivers, speed cameras, red-light cameras, surveillance cameras for "safety". Building regulations on disability access are out of control due to the government pandering to minority lobbyists and special interest groups. Post 9/11, Australian federal police are allowed to detain "people of interest" for up to 14 days without charge
. But all these issues and measures I can understand to a degree, the government is just "looking after its people" and "ensuring a safe environment for all Australians". That is one of the main jobs of a government.
It's when these regulations effect our rights as citizens to freedom of information and opinion that we have to put our foot down and say "NO".
Australian government is about to take the bold step of joining China, Burma and North Korea by introducing mandatory internet filtering to homes and workplaces across the country. The filter is intended to protect Australian children from "inappropriate material" and "harmful subject matter". On the surface this all sounds very innocuous, but it comes down to the definitions of "inappropriate" and "harmful", and to who will make these definitions. More on exactly what this effects can be found on the NoCleanFeed website
The problem with these definitions is that they are completely subjective and can be changed all to readily. We all agree, for instance, that child pornography is wrong, and that images depicting extreme violence are not suitable for children. But when does it cross the line, for "inappropriate" to cover things like political and religious dissent, or the right to protest government decisions? Who makes and updates these definitions? Who's to say that the Christian Lobby Groups, who are behind this whole push for a filter, won't pressure the government into blacklisting "Atheist Climber" for my stance on religion? Or politics? The legislation is so vague that it is open for interpretation, and the special interest groups who are behind the push have far too much sway for my liking.
What happens when my political views are contrary to the wants of government? This is scary stuff!
Not only this, but once implemented, this blog actually runs the risk of being blocked in my own country for writing the words "child pornography", because these filters lack the ability to contextualise information presented on a website.
Filtering of information for the safety of our children is mandatory for all parents, but it should be down to the individual parents to police. Any parent who doesn't do so already should be ashamed. We are not unthinking drones who lack the ability to make choices for ourselves, but under these types of blanket legislations we are denied this right.
We need to keep our rights as citizens. We need to be able to make our own decisions. The government has no place in telling us what information to which we should have access.
The Gift Of Censorship
The Great Australian Internet Blackout
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