All through the ages, the first thing the great dictators did when they got into power was to burn the books. There hasn’t been a time throughout history when a dictator hasn’t burned or banned books. Whether it be Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Mao Tse-Tung, Napoleon, Brezhnev, George Bush or Sarah Palin. Even now countries such as China, Saudia Arabia, Iraq, Iran, North Korea and Cuba just to name a few have strong censorship laws.
I came up through the sixties and seventies working for Collins Book Sellers who were battling the Henry Bolte/Aurthur Rylar government’s arcane censorship laws. Books like The Little Red School Book, Portnoy’s Complaint, The Outcasts of Foolgarah, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, were books that we were able to use to challenge the law; along with various editions of Playboy. Gough Whitlam came along and there was a new dawn with books. Most of the old rules were overturned and in Victoria there was very little trouble any more because Bolte was gone. Although in Queensland they still had Joh Bjelke-Petersen.
Labor governments in Australia through the ages have been on the progressive side of censorship. The Howard Government was doing it’s best to bring in strong censorship laws. Once even getting a law that would have had anyone arrest and charged for loading any sort of porn onto the Internet inside or outside the country, that is, if you were uploading porn to the USA you would be charged. It was stopped on the way to getting governors’ approval. Whose definition of porn was it?
I was most relieved when Kevin Rudd was elected. No more trouble with censorship laws. The ALP had more sense. The ALP would have much smarter people working in that department. No more trouble. Imagine my horror when I received an email from my son about the Great Firewall of Australia. You cannot imagine the anger and swear words that came from my mouth. The thing that really disappoints me the most is the amount of talent in the ALP that has not stood up against this law. One person in particular who is my hero, Maxine McKew, for beating John Howard in Bennelong. I have my own personal desktop background of the Bennelong result, she has not been stood up on this issue. Maxine is not the highest person in the ALP but she comes from a very strong media background. I expected that she would have taken a stand on this issue. But Maxine is not alone. There are many others in the ALP who remain silent.
Why won’t the firewall work? First of all, you could never make it a word based program. There are two many words that cross over, for instance the first and most obvious word is sex. If you ban the word sex, you also ban communicating with Middlesex and Sussex, you could never mention the word sextant. You would stop any email with a job application asking the persons sex or any document asking for your sex. That would just about grind the Internet to a halt in Australia. What about Virgin? Well there goes Virgin Airlines, Virginia and West Virginia for a start, then the online bible. Most of the words to do with women’s sexual health would be out. To show how effective a word based censorship firewall is to try blocking the word Viagra in your email. Ads by using the word Viagra will still get through. It cannot be done, because I still get V!agra Vi*gra and Viagr* coming through.
Senator Conroy says he only wants to ban child porn sites. Well I can tell why it won’t stop the child porn sites. Even if he blocked every site it would still get into Australia very, very easily. How? Every laptop coming into the country. Every portable USB hard drive on a key ring. Has anyone mentioned to Senator Conroy that the new portable hard drives can hold over 1Terabyte of information? Then there is Peer to Peer networks. His system won’t be able to block those at all. The record companies have been unsuccessful in stopping them, how is he going to stop them? Anybody with a little bit of computer knowledge can do that. Just ask your kids to show you how. Ask them about Limewire. Peer to Peer networks are a giant whole in Senator Conroy’s firewall, so big you could drive a truck through it.
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Senator Conroy’s intention is to block illegal websites. He has a budget allocated for that. It will be very difficult to do that for the present standard of the Internet without blocking a lot of innocent sites. But what Senator Conroy has not taken into account the huge explosion of the Internet in the USA that’s about to happen under Barrack Obama. Free up restrictions on the Internet, introducing broadband to large amounts of untouched area’s in the USA. Senator Conroy’s system will slow the Australian Internet down under today’s system. It will be worse when Obama’s Internet kicks in.
Let’s say Senator Conroy is 100% successful in the sites he blocks. All are correct none that shouldn’t be are blocked. The ALP is tossed out at the next election. The Liberals win in a landslide and Tony Abbott is the new Minister for communications. Not a nice thought is it? That would be senator Conroy’s fault.
Senator Conroy’s 40 million dollars would be much better spent and far more effective on extra police to crack down on child pornography. Oh I forgot, he can’t give that to another department can he?
Obama’s Internet Revolution Begins.