Monday, March 15, 2010

Joe Hockey and Kate Lundy - a new Democrats

I've kept out of the internet filter debate in my own name a bit, but I am pleased to see how well it has progressed. Now that Stephen Conroy is clear that the only webpages he wants to block are those that would be "Refused Classification."

This has brought out critics from both sides. Kate Lundy on her blog has suggested a non-mandatory (or opt-in) filter.

More recently Joe Hockey in a speech on liberyy said;

Similarly, we see the current Federal government seeking to introduce laws that will effectively censor the Internet. Of course we all want to stop unlawful material being viewed on the Internet. There are appropriate protections that are in place for that. But I have personal responsibility as a parent. If I want to stop my children from viewing other material that I feel is inappropriate then that is my responsibility to do something about it – not that of the government.

And this was the view of the Howard Government which proposed PC-based internet filters – a policy which I have always strongly supported. But what we have in the government’s Internet filtering proposals is a scheme that is likely to be unworkable in practice. But more perniciously it is a scheme that will create the infrastructure for government censorship on a broader scale. Protecting liberty is about protecting freedoms against both known and future threats. Some may argue that we can surely trust a democratically-elected government in Australia to never try to introduce more wide-spread censorship. I am not so sure!

It is interesting that Hockey falls for one of the Conroy confusions, Refused Classification is not the same as illegal. It seems that Joe, in defence of liberty, thinks that it should be his job as a parent to decide what otherwise refused classification material his kids see.

Both Lundy and Hockey look to me like they need to change party. The only party I can see that has a policy that they'd agree with are the Australian Democrats, who now call for;

the introduction of a simplified classification system that can be applied to all media, including new media forms as they are developed. This consistent classification scheme will enable consumers, in particular parents of young adolescents, to be able to identify what kind of content they can expect to see regardless of whether the media is a magazine, movie, television program, game or website.
The Classification Board will be asked to review and standardise the classification categories so there is no differentiation between media. As part of the review the Australian Democrats will require the removal of the 'refused classification' category, replacing this blanket category with informative categories that allow informed decisions or simply extending the existing R18+ and X18+ categories to
cover all legal material currently refused classification.

The Democrats have long been on the search for a new high profile saviour - the next Don Chipp. Maybe they have two.


Anonymous said...

I don't think there is confusions over illegal and refused classification material. This is the key statement for me:

"Some may argue that we can surely trust a democratically-elected government in Australia to never try to introduce more wide-spread censorship. I am not so sure!"

David Havyatt said...

The "thin end of the wedge" argument is hard to understand. If the enabling legislation for a mandatory filter is explicit on the content to be filtered, scope creep would require another parliamentary decision not a government one.

Whether we have a blocked list of RC sites now or not does not make it any easier for a future parliament to introduce legislation for a wider block.

The sentence chosen blurs the distinction between government and parliament. If Joe really had this concern he'd be arguing for a constitutional Bill of Rights - the only way to take the protection of a right away from parliament. He rejects the Brennan proposed model and any other model because "our institutions are sound".

Uncle Joe goes on to say later that he thinks banning violent video games is a good idea. He might like to ponder the fact that under existing law there is no R18+ for games, but these wouldnot be blocked on the internet. Go figure!

Anonymous said...

Scope creep is not required for there to be an abuse of the filter. As the blacklist of RC content will not be visible, and no auditing conducted, sites will be added according to the bias and preferences of a handful of people.

There has already been the example of the dentists website that had been added to the leaked list merely because years before the site had been hacked.

So, the decisions of a handful of people with no public accountability would have flagged this business under the current scope. Even though this is just one case the fact remains that the system is flawed, and if the system can be abused, history dictates that it will be.

The filter was launched under the guise of protecting our kids from online predators. However, filters do not provide protection, police and tracking specialists do. The money should be spent of fixing the problem as the source.

David Havyatt said...

Wow. I hope anonymous has been paying attention and realises the Government is currently consulting on how to manage the transparency and accountability of the list.

I know at least one submission has suggested this be conducted exactly the same way as any other RC process, including informing the content owner (the registered owner of the domain of which the designated page is part).

The example of the poorly thought through and administered ACMA blacklist (as introduced by the Government of which Hockey was a part and a policy he proudly supported) is irrelevant to a conversation about what the current Government's policy is.

Anyhow, the core point of my post was that the Democrats are the ones singing the tune that more people should listen to - the problem they really object to is the existence of an RC list at all.

Anonymous said...

Yet the people we are attempting to protect our kids from are still free and doing their worst on the net.

So the initial goal of the filter to protect kids is not advanced by the filters existence.

Once again, we should use the funds wisely to track and prosecute these people. I hear kiddie fiddlers don't have a great experience in prison.

David Havyatt said...

Is it the children who see the material or the children who get abused to make the image the ones we want to protect? Or, the children who won't get abused because one less person ever saw an image.

Senator Conroy will tell you the Government also increased funding for the AFP as part of its policy.

Once again I'm not in this post saying anything other than opposition to a policy that says webpages that are refused classification should not be able to be navigated to is a consistent application of existing classification laws.

Anonymous said...

Yet the ISP filter has been receiving opposition from various bodies you would think would give it the greatest support. According to Simon Wright at Whirlpool, the following groups are in opposition:

Child protection group Save the Children
National Children's and Youth Law Centre
NSW Director of Public Prosecutions

Surely these people who take it upon themselves to have all of the information, and the benefit of related experts can't all be against this filter for no reason.

How can this be?

Darryl said...

Saying that Hockey and Lundy should join the Democrats is flippant at best.

The Democrats or Greens will never form govenment, and even the Nationals are second fiddle in the coalition.

bad policy from a govenment will allways trump good policy from a crossbench party