Almost three years ago now, Senator Stephen Conroy stepped up to the plate to deliver a bold new vision. A vision of a filtered, "safer" internet. The plan was met by hostility from internet rights activists, poiticians, internet users, internet service providers and interest groups alike. Tonight, however, the Labor government's proposed mandatory internet filter is dead.
Tagged With fight the filter
Ah, compulsory Australian Government Internet Filter. Why won't you die? Oh, that's right -- because you're still part of government policy. At the NBN three year rollout launch today, Senator Stephen Conroy was asked about the progress of the Internet Filter. His response didn't say much, but it was rather worrying.
Communications Minister Stephen Conroy's suggested in relation to the Federal Government's controversial -- and not popular here at Gizmodo -- Internet filter that Optus and Telstra have implemented it. That's not quite the whole story.
Giz is no fan of the current government's mandatory filtering proposal, but the history of Australian government net filtering is rife with wasted money and wasted opportunities. Realistically, though, what should any government be doing?
It's no secret that Giz isn't a fan of the government's filter. Though Telstra has now adopted a more moderate voluntary framework (and Optus soon will), other ISPs like Internode and iiNet call it "security theatre" bypassed with basic DNS tweaks. The latest filter news: NBN Co has confirmed it won't be filtering--that will remain in the hands of ISPs.
Just before the election last year, Stephen Conroy announced that mandatory internet filtering would be placed on the backburner as the country's classifications laws were reviewed. At the same time, he announced that Telstra and Optus were planning on voluntarily censoring child porn websites. That filtering is set to start next month.
John Hilvert over at ITNews has reported that the federal government has closed the branch responsible for mandatory ISP level filtering in the DBCDE, yet remains committed to filtering the internets.
The internet freedom business is doing a roaring trade these days. Things started picking up early last year with Hillary Clinton's landmark speech, "Remarks on internet Freedom," which equated an open internet with human rights and condemned state-sponsored censorship of the net.
The government's internet filter policy caused a huge groundswell of anger and frustration among the tech savvy members of the online community. It even drove some people to attempt a DoS attack on government websites. Which is all fun and games until somebody gets busted, like Melbourne teenager Steve Slayo.
Although the government's proposed internet filter has effectively been delayed until 2013 at the earliest, it still hasn't been scrapped completely. Adding fuel to the fire that would burn the policy to ash is the revelation that Thailand's IT minister has recently admitted to ZDNet that blacklist filtering doesn't work, and that he believes Thailand should scrap their own internet filter.
Just before the election the government's proposed internet filter was postponed until next year, in what was widely regarded as a quick and easy way for the government to kill off a controversial election topic. But it didn't die. Now John Hilvert at ITNews is reporting that a strategy brief from the DBCDE is stating that the legislation couldn't be introduced to parliament until the middle of 2013.
It seems that no matter how many FTW's Senator Ludlam drops in his press releases, the Labor government is like a stubborn mule when it comes to filtering the Internet. Or, perhaps a more apt simile is a stubborn ass. PM Julia Gillard told an audience at the Queensland Media Club in Brisbane that implementing the filter is a "moral question".
David Ramli over at ARN managed to score some one-on-one time with the Communications Minister in the final run up to the election, in which Senator Conroy made a rather startling admission.
There are only two more sleeps until we all hunch over our cardboard cubicles and scrawl numbers on a sheet of paper to determine who will lead the country for the next few years. And while the internet filter may not be as big a concern given the Coalition's position on blocking any filter legislation, it's still part of Labor's policy and something you'll need to think about as you head to the polls. If you need a refresher of why internet filtering is a bad idea, look no further.
While in Berlin for the LinuxTag 2010 conference a couple of months ago, I took the opportunity for a 8-mile long meandering walk across the city, from Warschauer Strasse and the East Side Gallery to Wittenbergplatz and KaDeWe, taking in the various historical sites along the way. It was a great refresher course in 20th century European history. I especially enjoyed the free outdoor exhibit in Alexanderplatz, which dealt with the Revolutions of 1989 with a focus on the various dissident movements and publications in the DDR. Most were self-published, stealthily distributed samizdat newletters, copied laboriously using typewriters and carbon paper, primitive printing presses, or toward the end, some personal computers smuggled in from the West. They had on display an Amiga 500 and an NEC Pinwriter P6 used in 1989. Through “advanced” technology like this, document production could be raised from a few hundred to tens of thousands of copies.
It seems likely that mandatory filtering Labor-style won't survive as a policy no matter who gets elected, and that's good news. But as detestable as Labor's policy was, it could be much, much worse. Family First has an even more extreme proposal that includes making users pay directly for a compulsory filter.