The Rudd Labor Government is planning to force all Australian Internet Service Providers (ISP) to filter internet traffic and block any ‘inappropriate’ material. Under the guise of ‘protecting children’ the Government is planning to censor thousands of internet sites.
At the heart of the plan is defending the profits of the big business entertainment companies. Companies like Village Roadshow, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros are set to benefit greatly from mandatory filtering as it will make it much harder for users to download music, movies and images without paying royalties.
The Government is claiming that mandatory filtering is aimed at protecting children from violent and pornographic content by blocking certain sites. The reality is that there is already software available to be downloaded for free from the Government’s website that will block child pornography and other sensitive material.
Not only is child pornography already illegal but it is also generally traded in an underground fashion. This means that no amount of filtering will stop the practice. In fact even some children’s welfare groups say that mandatory filters are ineffective and a waste of money.
Mandatory filtering has nothing to do with protecting the rights of children. Rudd has absolutely no interest in seriously challenging the social problems that give rise to the sexual exploitation or abuse of children.
To really undermine the basis for the sexual exploitation of children the Government would have to take on the multinational media companies and the advertising and entertainment industries. It is these industries that hold core responsibility for the sexualisation and exploitation of children, yet they are the ones Rudd is defending with this plan!
Mandatory filtering and censorship is not only an attack on civil liberties but it will also slow down internet speeds by up to 87 per cent! This will make internet use much more expensive and impact heavily on low income earners.
The problem with the mandatory nature of Rudds plan is who actually decides what is acceptable content and what is not? The state should not have any role in telling people what they can and can not read or look at.
Rudd’s plan would in fact put Australia’s level of internet censorship it in the same league as countries like China, Iran and North Korea. Ironically, in the past Rudd has accused these countries of being ‘anti-democratic’!
The other concern is that if we allow this level of censorship to go through where will it stop? Today Rudd wants to censor violence and child porn but tomorrow it could be political views that he doesn’t agree with. With blocked sites kept secret internet users won’t know which sites are banned and for what reason.
Aside from helping the big entertainment companies to maintain their profits, Rudd’s censorship plan will lay the basis for further attacks on civil liberties in the years to come. Rudd knows that as the economic crisis gets worse there will be more of a need to crack down on dissent. These laws will make this much easier.
The Government’s mandatory internet filtering is planned to enter a pilot test phase some time before December 24. Protests are being organised in all major cities for December 13.