We’re only months from a Federal election but Kevin Rudd is breaking promises and tabling policy at an alarming rate. First the insulation scheme, then ETS and now the proposed Internet filter. During the 2007 Communications Minister Stephen Conroy announced, that if elected, Labor would filter the Internet. This planned filter was going to save Australia’s children, he said.
The plan stated that Labor would provide a mandatory ‘clean feed’ filter implemented by Internet Service Providers (ISP) that would block all prohibited material. A ‘blacklist’ provided by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) would be used to identify harmful and inappropriate material and would in time be made more comprehensive.
However, in the lead up to the 2010 Federal elections Labor have taken the policy and shelved it till after the election. The scheme has a lot of critics including President Obama and Google. UniLifeMag asked two young Internet users what they thought of the filter.
22-year-old Brad Fattori is a support technician and claims that circumventing the filter is easy if you know how.
“VPNs [virtual private networks], filesharing and torrents are just three ways of bypassing the filters”.
Brad maintains that while the filter is “pointless” and easily bypassed, he is concerned that once the filter is in place that it will be abused.
“Who knows what the government will block? They can now block certain news stories which make them seem bad … [the government now has] total control of freedom of information”, he said.
Electronic Frontiers Australia spokesman Geordie Guy has similar concerns. Once in place he believes that the filter can be extended to block content that the government disagrees with, without public knowledge or support
“A mandatory system, once built … it’s pretty easy for the scope of what’s intended to be censored to grow”.
20-year-old Labor supporter Guy WIlcock disagrees, claiming that the government wouldn’t abuse the filter for fear of becoming “unelectable”. Guy also believes that whilst young people will resist the filter it’s in the best interests of society as a whole.
“People of our generation don’t support speed limits, anti-drug laws, an innumerable social customs. However, the law is for the benefit of society”.
Whether Gen-Y will accept mandatory Internet filtering won’t be known until after the Federal election. Depending on the election result the filter may never make it off the shelf again. We’ll just have to wait and see.
What do you guys think? Is censorship the way to go? Or will it infringe on your rights to use the internet? Leave us a comment!