Philosophy Hurts Your Head

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

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!


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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 »

Digital Economy Future Directions blog: What is this about?

Posted by Sam D on December 11, 2008

What is this about indeed? The following is take from the front page of the new Digital Economy Future Directions blog launched recently by the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.

The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Conroy has announced that the Australian Government will develop a Future directions paper for the digital economy—a roadmap for Australian businesses, households and government to maximise participation in the digital economy. And we would like you to help us create the roadmap.

We want to hear your thoughts and ideas about the digital economy. Click on the blog topics (starting with Minister Tanner’s welcome) in the column at the right or in the list at the bottom of this page to start engaging with the blog. We plan to release a draft of the paper for detailed feedback shortly; but in the meantime, it seemed logical to us to use one of the key communications platforms of the digital economy—blogs—as a way to engage with you and your ideas.

Oh, the Minister has discovered blogs! Surely we are living in the future! Time will tell if the feedback the online community gives to this blog will be taken into account. I’m deeply cynical/realistic, so I will put my money on most suggestions being ignored. Be that as it may, I’d encourage all Australians to comment on the blog as is their right.

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Live trial of ISP level Filtering not actually Live.

Posted by Sam D on December 5, 2008

In an email regarding the ISP Level Filtering trials to be held later this month, Senator Conroy has seemingly admitted that the part of the trial testing the effect of an expanded blacklist will not be live as such.

In consultations with ISPs, concerns have been raised that filtering a blacklist beyond 10 000 URLs may raise network performance issues, depending on the configuration of the filter. The pilot will therefore seek to also test network performance against a test list of 10 000 URLs.
This will be a closed network test and will not involve actual customers. The list of 10 000 sites will be developed by the technical organisation assisting the Department on the pilot, which has access to lists of this size. As this test is only being performed to test the impact on network performance against a list of this size, and actual customers are not involved, the make-up of the list is not an issue.

This might explain why Senator Conroy failed to answer Senator Bernardi’s questions regarding the trial, as reported by BanThisURL. If Senator Conroy had got to the point quicker he would have had to let this cat out of the bag in question time, but luckily (for him) the Senate President cut him off.

Massive hat-tip to frankfil for publicizing this on Whirlpool and Twitter.

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Australian Bill of Rights

Posted by Sam D on December 4, 2008

The Sydney Morning Herald reported yesterday that the federal Government was considering the creation of an Australian Bill of Rights. The SMH article quoted Australian National University’s Professor Hilary Charlesworth as saying that “the bill of rights would probably include civil and political rights such as the right to free speech and protection from discrimination.” In the context of the current discussion over internet censorship here, I think it is somewhat ironic for a government to propose the formation of something to enshrine our rights at the same time as it is trialling technologies designed to curtail them. It did occur to me (rather cynically) that the Bill of Rights will be primarily a political tool to lull people into a false sense of security – “Your liberties can’t be under threat, the Bill of Rights will keep them safe”. I admit though that despite it’s sense of righteous outrage, the ALP may see the pro-liberty, anti-filtering brigade as a small enough minority to ignore and therefore to attribute the Bill of Rights idea as a reaction to their efforts may be an error of proportionality. Either way, the formation of this document should be an interesting process and I’m looking forward to participating as much as I can.

In other news:

  • It seems that the Australian Young labor Party has broken ranks with its parent organisation to pass a motion against the mandatory filtering regime . This of course has no actual effect on anything that the grown-up politicians are doing, and while I like to think it could indicate dissent within the greater party, I know that it probably doesn’t. (Thanks to BanThisUrl)
  • The GetUp! campaign against internet filtering has collected 76,157 signatures on it’s electronic petition.

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

GetUp! finally on board with anti ISP Filtering campaign!

Posted by Sam D on November 26, 2008

The title says it all! Please get involved if you can.

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

ISP Filtering (In)Action Update

Posted by Sam D on November 26, 2008

Resistance -Nothing. Actually, they have not done anything about any cause in the last few weeks. 0/10

GreenLeft Weekly – A brief mention on a related forum which resulted in no discussion. 1/10

GetUp! – Published a blog piece by Irene Graham of and apparently emailed some members promising action and a campaign, neither of which have eventuated, yet. 3/10 – To say I expected more from these people would be an understatement. I don’t think they are pro-filter as such, I just think they don’t care what happens in Australia. 0/10

The Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy have released the results of their Q & A regarding the Live Trial of ISP Filtering. There are a lot of responses to questions, but I would not consider many of them actual answers. 0/10

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

Australian Sex Party

Posted by Sam D on November 18, 2008

It isn’t as salacious as it sounds, but it is exciting stuff nonetheless.  The Australian Sex Party has been formed recently, and will be revealing their policies (I hope) on Thursday. 

The Australian Sex Party is a political response to the sexual needs of Australia in the 21st century. It is an attempt to restore the balance between sexual privacy and sexual publicity that has been severely distorted by morals campaigners and prudish politicians. (from the ASP website).

If the claim that 4 million Australians look at pornography every year is at all accurate, then a campaign via the points of sale of this product is going to reach a lot of people. I think it safe to say that most consumers of pornography and adult products in Australia are either Labor or Coalition voters (just becuase most Australians are either Labor or Liberal/National voters), so there exists a real opportunity to steal Senate votes from the two major parties, not just the Greens. With the support of the EROS association, they may be a political force to be reckoned with

It is reported that the party’s platforms include a national sex education curriculum, reducing censorship, abolishing the government’s proposed internet filter and supporting gay marriage. I’m waiting to see the actual policies before making a full judgment.  

Comments follwing the Telegraph report on the formation of the ASP suggest that at least some people feel democracy is only working when it elects the people that suit them. As I said in the comments myself, if democracy is good enough for Family First, then it’s good enough for the Australian Sex party. You can’t have it both ways.

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Resistance, GetUp!: Too Soft on Labor?

Posted by Sam D on November 10, 2008

I have noticed a distinct lack of activity on the part of two organisations with regard to the spectre (if I can use such an emotive word) of non-transparent government internet censorship in Australia. Read more about the censorship here

GetUp!, instrumental in the downfall of the Howard government (or so some think), has had very little to say on the subject, and has launched no campaign. Some do not think the organisation is as independant from the Labor party as it would have the public believe. I’m not sure what has caused this lack of response.

The other political organisation whose lack of response strikes me as odd is Resistance. Now, being a left leaning orgainisation, I understand that their members are probably happier with Mr Rudd as PM than Mr Howard (I know I am, or I was til recently). But I have heard nothing from them on this issue, at all. Nothing on their webpage. Nothing on the Resistance Blog. Nothing in Green Left Weekly. And it isn’t like they don’t know, becuase I’ve emailed them myself. Have they not worked out that ISP interent filtering in the hands of a government hostile to them could wipe them off the web in Australia? Apparently not. I don’t know if Pete Robson is still involved with Resistance, but if he is: Pete, I’m very dissapointed. 

So what is this all about? Why has the Left (and I use the term very loosely to mean non-Coalition) other than the Greens had nothing to say about this? Is it fear of causing a divisive discussion between conservative and progressive members? Is it backroom politics and links to conservative trade union movments (not really my theory by the way). Is it run of the mill disorganisation and incompetance? I don’t know, but I intend to find out.

Posted in News, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | 12 Comments »