The mandatory internet filter has been on the cards for nearly two years now but I must admit I honestly didn’t think it would get off the ground. The whole idea is manifestly flawed and technically unfeasable and I foolishly thought that Senator Conroy would have to bow to common sense in the end.
Alas, no. Religious zealotry tends to flush away all common sense and thus it is that today Stephen Conroy has given the green light to the filter.
It’s hard to articulate the churn of negative emotions I’m feeling now but suffice to say that I’m angry, frustrated, outraged and perplexed by the decision. The plan still involves a blacklist and it’s still going to be secret; it’s essentially a green light for the government to censor pretty much anything under the guise of “protecting the children.”
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And what’s being sold as a fight against child porn is actually a war on legal, adult pornography. The report says that RC (“refused classification”) material will be blocked – this is material that it is actually legal to own in Australia. The Australian Sex Party says 99% of all adult websites would be considered RC if the government had the resources and time to classify the millions of them out there.
Even female ejaculation is considered a “fetish” and thus beyond the pale. Once again, censorship imposes itself on female sexuality and tells us what is and isn’t “normal”. This is a regime that bans the healthy sexuality of Matinee but thinks images of clitoridectomy a la Antichrist is OK.
The only positive thing I can take from this is the overwhelming response to the announcement on Twitter and in comments on news sites. About 99% of all comments and tweets I’m reading are opposed to the filter and a lot of people are saying it’s a vote-changer. There’s real anger out there and I think it’s going to be forcefully expressed in the coming days and weeks.
Fact is Australia has outgrown it’s ridiculous censorship laws and there’s a wave of Gen X and Y internet users that are about to start getting seriously vocal about their right to freedom of speech. It really is time we stood up to these conservative bastards and told them what the majority of Australians really think.
And if protests and letters and emails and strong public antipathy don’t work, I will be leaving Australia. Probably in a year’s time when the filter is due to come into force. No doubt For The Girls and some of my other sites will be blocked and I don’t want to give my tax dollars to a country that thinks my brand of positive sexual expression is obscene.
Update (and I think I’m going to keep updating this post this evening as things progress): The Australian Christian Lobby which pushed for the filter is ALREADY demanding that it be extended:
Managing director Jim Wallace issued a statement claiming the Enex report had “proven the technological principle [of filtering] can be extended to deal with other harmful X and R-rated material on the internet.
“This is now clearly feasible and we need a review in three years that might test this in practice, particularly using third party providers of URLs,” Wallace said.
Hello slippery slope.