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: ALP, Australian Politics, Censorship, Conroy, Internet, Internet Censorship, ISP Filtering, Kevin Rudd, News, Politics, Senator Conroy | 1 Comment »
Posted by Sam D on November 4, 2008
Well, not quite yet, but the way things are going I think we are heaing that way. People overseas, both in the US and Europe are expressing surprise the relative lack of uproar over this. There are a number of reasons for this lack of general concern. I suspect some of this has to do with Australians having a weaker conception of things like freedom and liberty. I also suspect many Australians don’t really take to heart the idea that some (if not most) rights exist because of people rather than because of governments. I’ll leave speculating about such high ideals for another day though.
In a practical sense, I suspect what is driving this lack of concern is lack of awareness of the issue in the first place. This might not be entirely responsible but I’m sure it is a signifigant factor. So why isn’t the general public in Australia aware that the government is about to legislate away our right to an un-censored internet? For a start, uptake of this story has been minimal to non-existant by the print media. Newspapers are still one of the major sources of news (strangely enough) here. Ans while many papers have had articles regarding the ISP filtering on their websites, very few if any of these stories have hit actual paper.
Likewise, this story has yet to feature on a nightly news program or eveng current affairs program. Now given the level of journalistic integrity (or lack thereof) that most Australian current affairs shows exhibit, this might not be such a bad thing.
The one medium where the issue is being debated is (of course) online. But even here we are making a poor showing for ourselves. An example: Of the 254,000 users registered on the Whirlpool Broadband Forums there have not been more than 3000 – 4000 views of the ongoing discussion, despite these threads being replied to so often that they have seldom been off the front page of the site. Even if I’m totally wrong in my guesstimate, it could not be more than 10,000. So where are the rest of them? Sure we don’t have 250,000 people on reegularly, but there are usually at least 2000 users on these forums at any one time.
Some Australian bloggers have made fine contributions to the debate. Hexpletive, Sean the Blognaut, and many, many more that I discovered via The Australian Index (an index of Australian blogs, obviously) have been writing extensivly and thoughtfully on the subject from before I even heard about all of this. USing the more common related categories, I estimate there are no more than 400 – 500 Australian bloggers registered with the index writing about this. I would have expected a few more contributions from the over 3000 blogs listed on this site.
Likewise, whileover ten thousand Australians on Facebook have joined groups like No Australian Internet Censorship, many hundreds of thousands of Australians have not.
My point? All Australians who are aware of what could be about to happen to our internet, and more importantly our freedom, need to put more effort into making others aware of this. Most people don’t know at all – and they can’t be a party to the debate we sorely need to have until they do.
Edit: Now actually linking to Sean’s blog.
Posted in News, Politics | Tagged: Australia, Internet, Internet Censorship, ISP Filtering, News, Politics | 1 Comment »