Philosophy Hurts Your Head

The blog of a cranky Philosophy PhD Student from Newcastle, Australia.

Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Labor to monitor Blogs

Posted by Sam D on March 23, 2009

The Age reported yesterday that the Government will begin “trawling blog sites” as part of a new media ‘monitoring’ strategy, with documents singling out popular forum Whirlpool for special atention.  

Soon after Senator Conroy praised Singapore’s Government for reducing monitoring of blogs, tender documents issued by the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy reveal it is looking for a “comprehensive digital monitoring service for print and electronic media”.

The department later attached a clarification confirming the term “electronic media” included “blogs such as Whirlpool”.

Coming from other politicians, this might seem like some sort of move towards community consultation. But coming from Senator Conroy, it comes across as something of a thinly veiled threat, especially in light of recent exchanges between Whirlpool’s host and ACMA over linking to so-called ‘prohibited’ content. 

Apart from being a waste of taxpayer money, this will no doubt inspire a degree of paranoia in some Whirlpudlians, as many users on the forum have been passionately and intelligently opposed to Senator Conroy’s ISP level Filtering plans, as well as his handling of the National Broadband Network. In fact, Whirlpools ISP filtering discussion threads have been pivotal in diseminating information, debunking myths and honing the arguments of those opposed to the Mandatory  ISP Filtering/Internet Censorship plan. 

But the threat fails in many ways. Over time, it has become apparent that the DBCDE has followed the discussion on Whirlpool for many months already, so many people are used to this anyway. The moderators of WP police the policy of not linking to ‘prohibited’ content quite dilligently, so  it’s unlikely that the site, or any of the users can be cought out and used as a political scapegoat.

More importantly, as I have stated elsewhere, systematic cataloguing of the ISP Filtering discussion will provide an immense amouint of material hilighting just how unpopular Senator Conroy really is with the industry he is supposed to represent. This would be a compilation where we demolish every argument provided by the minister and his supporters, where we take great pleasure at his misfortune, where we regularly make a fool of him and prove him incompetant or a liar (or both) before the ink is dry on his own press releases.  I would dearly love for this material to land on the desk of Kevin Rudd, and to be distributed at the ALP national conference in August, so the party can see just how much of a political liability this Minister, and this plan have become. 

I have to agree with Stephen Conroy is  C#nt , this does not bode well for Senator Conroy’s future as the Minister. At least that is what I hope, becuase the alternative is that it does not bode well for us.

Posted in Censorship, News, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Australian Internet Blacklist Leaked!

Posted by Sam D on March 19, 2009

A list of URLs, allegedly the ACMA blacklist, has been posted on Wikileaks today. It is hard at this stage to go into much detail, or link directly to the list, as Australians have been threatened with up to 10 years jail for distributing the list .

However, the intrepid author of Somebody Think of The Children (STOTC) has started to have a quick look at the list. A few things are quickly apparent. There are more URL’s on it than previously thought. And (surprise!) the list contains some completely legitmate websites.  It’s reported by STOTC that these sites include Abbywinters.com, which is pretty benign stuff if (unless you have a real problem with nudity), as well as Betfair.com. Xtube also gets  caught in the ACMA net.

The EFA report that other surprises in the list include: “YouTube videos, a MySpace profile, online poker parlours and a site containing poison information were present, as well as many apparently harmless sites such as that of a tour operator and a satirical encyclopedia.”

Websinthe wonders who leaked the list? I doubt we will ever know for sure.

Posted in Censorship, News, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Another Censorship Round Up

Posted by Sam D on February 25, 2009

Internet filtering — reasons to oppose it By Peter Robson at Green Left Weekly – Keep up the good work Pete!

Conroy confesses: web filtering will hit ‘other content’ Bernard Keane at Crikey reports that the goverment is considering the adding of legal contentbeing blocked by the mandatory filtering. 

Internet Black-list revelations raise further questions about Labors Mandatory Filtering. Nick Minchin highlights the Liberal’s concerns over the content of the blacklist and the publication of the anti-abortion site after it was added to it.

Posted in Censorship, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Who’s afraid of Peer Review?

Posted by Sam D on February 20, 2009

Websinthe reports that Clive Hamilton has accused him of trying to silence him because he asked Charles Sturt University to peer review his public commentary.

I don’t have time to comment at as much length as I’d like, but here is my take on it: Anyone, academic or not, can state their opinion in public – it’s a right I strongly support. But strong claims have to be put to the test. And for academics, one of the most recognisable and strongest tests is peer-review.

Clive does not have to have his public comments peer-reviewed, that would excessively infringe upon his right to express opinions publicly. But without the application of academic rigour, including peer-review, they are only opinions, nothing more.

Posted in Censorship, Ethics, philosophy & politics, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Internet Censorship Round-up

Posted by Sam D on February 19, 2009

This past week-and-a-bit has seen the Australian newspapers website feature a number of it’s s0-called “Super Bloggers” giving opinion pieces regarding ISP level filtering.

Some of these articles were quite reasonable. However, I’m going to focus briefly on some that aren’t.

Clive Hamilton: Web doesn’t belong to net libertarians

I’m not sure where to begin with this offering. The first few paragraphs are unnecessarily lewd, presumably in an attempt to shock a fearful & conservative audience. In fact the depictions are so graphic that at least one person has lodged a complaint with ACMA. For a more thorough appraisal of this, go to SomebodyThinkof The Children! I’d just like to make one point (again!): Clive Hamilton writes in great detail and at length on the damage that pornography does to society, including adults. His opinions on this matter have never been published in a peer-reviewed journal. If someone has an idea about Climate Change, but this idea can’t survive peer-review, then it’s not considered good science. Why is ‘Public Ethics’ any different?

Stephen Conroy: Filtering doesn’t breach free speech

And why? Because the government says so. I’d apperciate some explanation for this position. This isn’t 15th century France,  Kevin Rudd is not the Sun King, so this ” I am the state” type of attitude is not on.

Seriously though, repetition does not equal truth. Why can politicians never learn this?

The comments on both of these articles came thick and fast, and anti-filter views were predominant for a while. Then a flood of pro-filter/anti-porn views hit the Australian. Many people though this was strange, but an explanation was found soon  enough. Apparently the Jim Wallace & Australian Christian Lobby had emailed their supporters asking them to show post comments in support of internet filtering on both of these articles. This was first reported on WhirlPool and was later picked up by SomebodyThinkOfTheChildren. The point is that the flood of support for the filters to defend us from the ‘filth’ that inhabits the internet was effectively manufactured, not to mention poorly informed. This isn’t a great move for the ACL, as their most effective lobbying was done when the general public not was aware of them. The more they try to influence debate and opinion on this issue, the more attention they will draw to themselves. And despite their standing in the Baptist and Pentecostal communities, they may yet turn out to be a political liability.

Posted in Politics, Religion, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Anti-abortion website blacklisted by ACMA!

Posted by Sam D on January 22, 2009

As reported on Whirlpool and Somebody Think of the Children, ACMA has apparently declared an anti-abortion website to be unsuitable for adults after a complaint was lodged via email. ACMA’s response was posted on both of the above sites, but I’ll repeat it for those of you too lazy to click a link.

Edit: Just to state the obvious, the link below to abortiontv.com will take you to images that claim to be aborted fetuses. If you are a child, at work, or otherwise wish not to see such things, then don’t click on it!

Subject: Complaint Reference: 2009000009/ ACMA-691604278
Date: Wed, 21 Jan 2009 15:45:00 +1100
From: online@acma.gov.au

Complaint Reference: 2009000009/ ACMA-691604278

I refer to the complaint that you lodged with the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) on 5th January 2009 about certain content made available at:

http://www.abortiontv.com/Pics/AbortionPictures6.htm

Following investigation of your complaint, ACMA is satisfied that the internet content is hosted outside Australia, and that the content is prohibited or potential prohibited content.

The Internet Industry Association (IIA) has a code of practice (http://www.iia.net.au/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=415&Itemid=33) for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) which, among other things, set out arrangements for dealing with such content. In accordance with the code, ACMA has notified the above content to the makers of IIA approved filters, for their attention and appropriate action. The code requires ISPs to make available to customers an IIA approved filter.

Information about ACMA’s role in regulating online content (including internet and mobile content), including what is prohibited or potentially prohibited content is available at ACMA’s website at www.acma.gov.au/hotline

Thank you for bringing this matter to ACMA’s attention.

Disturbing, but undoubtedly political content. So, not even political speech is safe from ACMA. Pete, I hope you take note of this.

Edit: spelling & formatting.

Posted in Censorship, News, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Goodbye to the Conroy Blog

Posted by Sam D on December 23, 2008

The day after finally posting on the topic that everyone wanted to discuss, the DBCDE blog is closing comments. I don’t have the words right now to say what I think of this. 

 

Anyway, if you want to say your piece there, you should do it before 3 pm tomorrow.

Posted in News, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Conroy Finally Blogs about ISP Filter!

Posted by Sam D on December 22, 2008

Stephen Conroy has finally adressed the questions regarding the ISP Filtering plan ALP internet censorship policy on his department blog. I use the term ‘adresed’ very loosely, because having read “Minister Conroy on: Promoting a civil and confident society online“, I can say that he has allayed none of my fears regarding this plan. 

 

In fact, he actually confirms one of my concerns, that material will be blacklisted in accordance with the ACMA prohibited content rules. Maybe I’m reading it wrong, I will seek further clarification. In the meantime, if you like anything on that list, then you had better get downloading!

I’ll post more detailed analysis later, right now I’m off to spread the word!

Posted in Censorship, Politics | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

We hear you…

Posted by Sam D on December 12, 2008

This was the title of the latest post on Senator Conroy’s Digital Economy blog.

With all due respect Senator, no you don’t! If you did, the online community in Australia would not be having this conversation. Again, I encourage all Australians to comment on the Digital Economy blog and let the Minister know how you feel about his policies.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

ISP Filtering – A lesson in History.

Posted by Sam D on December 12, 2008

There have been some very good articles coming out of the Australian Blogsphere regarding the IPS filtering plan. My favorite for this week has been Liberal tyranny on the World Wide Web at Spiked Online by Kerry Miller, (who blogs at Strange Times ) which describes the role that Clive Hamilton has played in the development of this policy. I note that his new employer CAPPE ( Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics)  has minimised reference to his pro-filter position or articles.

It is worth noting that across a political spectrum (not that it is the best way to categorise political views) the more coherent and critical reactions have come from the libertarian right. That said the Greens have come out strongly against this, and in some ways they are libertarian left-ish. However you cut it though, the response from much of the left has been pretty weak. I was surprised by this. Is it because left leaning ideologies have a weaker sense of individual rihgs or liberties? I don’t know. What I do know is that at least one of my friends is going to say “I told you so” (or something along those lines, but more eloquent) when I see him next.

Posted in Censorship, philosophy & politics, Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »