1984? No, 2010! Welcome to “The Nanny State”

December 27, 2009 § 19 Comments

I always stumble when I attempt to talk about things of a political nature. Politics are very complicated, and I think it’s difficult to see all sides of a situation, even for those who are experts in political issues. Because of this I try not to touch on real-world politics too much, as I fear being proven wrong, and I sometimes worry I’m misunderstanding situations because I’ve not seen the whole picture. Even when I do understand the whole story, I can feel that I have nothing new to offer anyhow. But this year, 2009, I am beginning to see a government implemented trend toward a possible Orwellian future for Australia, and it really has me worried.

We are a highly regulated society in Australia. We have mandatory water restrictions, random drug testing for drivers, speed cameras, red-light cameras, surveillance cameras for “safety”. Building regulations on disability access are out of control due to the government pandering to minority lobbyists and special interest groups. Post 9/11, Australian federal police are allowed to detain “people of interest” for up to 14 days without charge. But all these issues and measures I can understand to a degree, the government is just “looking after its people” and “ensuring a safe environment for all Australians”. That is one of the main jobs of a government.

It’s when these regulations effect our rights as citizens to freedom of information and opinion that we have to put our foot down and say “NO”.

Australian  government is about to take the bold step of joining China, Burma and North Korea by introducing mandatory internet filtering to homes and workplaces across the country. The filter is intended to protect Australian children from “inappropriate material” and “harmful subject matter”. On the surface this all sounds very innocuous, but it comes down to the definitions of “inappropriate” and “harmful”, and to who will make these definitions. More on exactly what this effects can be found on the NoCleanFeed website.

The problem with these definitions is that they are completely subjective and can be changed all to readily. We all agree, for instance, that child pornography is wrong, and that images depicting extreme violence are not suitable for children. But when does it cross the line, for “inappropriate” to cover things like political and religious dissent, or the right to protest government decisions? Who makes and updates these definitions? Who’s to say that the Christian Lobby Groups, who are behind this whole push for a filter, won’t pressure the government into blacklisting “Atheist Climber” for my stance on religion? Or politics? The legislation is so vague that it is open for interpretation, and the special interest groups who are behind the push have far too much sway for my liking.

What happens when my political views are contrary to the wants of government? This is scary stuff!

Not only this, but once implemented, this blog actually runs the risk of being blocked in my own country for writing the words “child pornography”, because these filters lack the ability to contextualise information presented on a website.

Filtering of information for the safety of our children is mandatory for all parents, but it should be down to the individual parents to police. Any parent who doesn’t do so already should be ashamed. We are not unthinking drones who lack the ability to make choices for ourselves, but under these types of blanket legislations we are denied this right.

We need to keep our rights as citizens. We need to be able to make our own decisions. The government has no place in telling us what information to which we should have access.

Additional Reading:

NoCleanFeed.com

Article 19 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights from United Nations.

10 Questions About The Mandatory ISP-level Filter

A Personal 2009 End Of Year Political Shame List

Christian Pastor falls for Conroy’s Con

Take action!

The Gift Of Censorship

The Great Australian Internet Blackout

Get Up Campaign

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§ 19 Responses to 1984? No, 2010! Welcome to “The Nanny State”

  • I’m in total agreement. For starters these people don’t realise that the internet cannot be censored (although they can certainly block a lot of it.)

    And most filters, as you point out, are far too shotgun in what they block.

    We have similar proposals here in New Zealand, but I am hopeful they will not go through. I have geek friends who are very actively educating and opposing it.

    On another note, “I fear being proven wrong”
    With respect, this is a classic intellectualist fear (of mine, for example). I take courage from Socrates who wanted to be proved wrong so he could learn something. Humility is the greatest weapon of any intellectual, imo.

    🙂

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  • Tim says:

    Hey, good post. I feel pretty strongly about this too. Saw your link on #nocleanfeed tag. I’m working on a letter to Senator Conroy and would appreciate your feedback. Prior to this, I agreed with a fair amount of regulation, it either made sense — for example, a recent temporary mobility impairment gave me a whole new appreciation for mobility assistance and disability access — or it didn’t impact on my life, so I didn’t notice it. This however, as you say is really scary in its subjective definitions and potential for expansion or change depending on the political climate. I really hope that people can become motivated about this to effect change.

  • GarageRock says:

    Very well done Marty! I just hope that Canada does not do this, especially with the government we have now hell-bent on taxing everyone to death(except the rich).

    At work, out filtering is so bad, that I can just imagine what you’ll be going through…I can’t read the news, but I sure as hell can check the sports websites…they keep us “entertained” but not informed. When one is entertained, Big Brother can then control us more.

    Have you ever seen Zeitgeist the movie? Watch it free online: http://www.zeitgeistmovie.com/

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  • WiseGuyEddie says:

    Here in America, the RWNJ consistently equate President Obama with an extreme Socialist (“Tea Party” psychos even portray him as Hitler). I think the loons the USA should read this post and direct their energy to real threats to our liberties instead of manufactured threats posed by the likes of Sarah Palin and her illiterate minion. Great post.

    • marsnv says:

      “Tea Party” psychos even portray him as Hitler”

      Don’t be a hypocrite and claim the right are the only ones who do this. The same sort of thing was done by liberals when Bush was in office.

  • Cary says:

    On top of the impracticality and subjectivity of this sort of filtering, is the darker aspect of that subjectivity, which is, of course, the reason China and friends filter it.

    It’s small step from these sorts of open-ended regulations to ‘protect’ to tyranny. This is exactly what prompted Thomas Jefferson to say, “The man who would choose security over freedom deserves neither.”

  • Larro says:

    Yeah, was watching a movie last night (I’m in the US) and there was a PG-13 warning for “mayhem”. Mayhem? We don’t want to condone “mayhem” to a child under 13 now do we? I think they have that handled quite nicely.

  • Marty, I agree fully. A censored humanity is not a healthy humanity! It is not a governments responsibility to determine what we (adults) should or should not be privy to read. As far as our children go, it is our decision as parents what information we would like them to have access to. I condemn any government that censors what information it’s citizens should have access to.

    On that note, the internet is already being censored to an extent. Not by our governments but by sites most people visit daily. Internet censorship is already happening to everyone throughout the world to an extent. You can read more about that here: http://bit.ly/7wJAiQ

    Here are some more links that I think your readers might enjoy reading!

    http://www.acs.org.au/news/senate.htm
    http://www.thegreatdebate.org.uk/GDIntFreeProc.html
    http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/opinion/1566179/australia-try-censor-internet
    http://www.infowars.com/censoring-the-internet-a-collection-of-essential-links/

    Cheers….

    Ben

  • David Johnson says:

    I predict this whole filter thing will go down in flames before it ever gets rolled out – just like the national identity card, or the republican movement. If it does get rolled out, well, we can all use our computers to run DDOS attacks on government servers all day, every day.

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  • Sam B. says:

    I agree. Government censoring is not a good idea, whereas self censoring and censoring for children is a very good idea. When there has been government censoring, it really hasn’t worked that well such as crackdowns on protests after that earthquake in China or the protests over the Iranian election.

    I live in the United States so I enjoy little government censorship but it negatively affects everyone in the world because:

    It restricts the amount of information so the government can essentially tell the world whatever it wants without opposition.
    Packets of information (downloads, uploads) travel through network connections on the internet. Potentially, they could travel through a censored network and be blocked even though that was not their destination.
    False threats.

  • thecatsman says:

    What is happening to our supposed free world..

  • I think some regulation is great (water, surveillance, etc.) but I wouldn’t want to be detained for 14 days for doing nothing! On the topic of internet regulation, I think that parents should take responsibility for their children. But that doesn’t mean they will. It’s a very touchy subject. It would be great if child pornography was totally wiped out from the internet and children were prevented from finding certain materials, but government censorship isn’t sophisticated enough to sift the good from the bad. Or the questionable from the harmless.

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  • Jessica says:

    I totally agree with you on this issue. I believe it is totally up to the parents to censor.

    As a parent I have learned that if I tell my kids not to do something without explanation, they will be curious to see what it is all about. Now I tell my kids why they should not do something and explain how the outcome may affect them. They then choose not to do it. If the government bans these sites, it really does not teach right from wrong. More will rebel because of it.

    There is no possible way to police EVERY site. Especially based on keywords that may be used outside of context.

  • Cry Freedom says:

    For someone that said you stumble on things political, that was quite contradictory in the fact that you didn’t stumble at all. I thought it was well thought out and expressed your view well. A good read, and I fully agree with your post.

    There’s a growing apprehension in a growing number of peoples stomachs and some who are not usually politically minded are sickened enough with what they see to tell the world about it.

    Keep growling,

    Cry Freedom
    http://thedeathoffreedom.wordpress.com/

  • […] campaign has been particularly boring and skirts across topics with rhetoric and empty promises. Internet censorship, (where opponents of the filter are accused of being in favour of child pornography as a matter of […]

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