The other day the the SMH published a story about the Government covering up information about their plans to censor the Internet in Australia: Filtering out the fury: how government tried to gag web censor critics.
Not surprising really, because anyone involved in technology realises that it is a ridiculous way to protect our children.
So AWIA is really serious about the issue, and I spent a few hours on Sunday night doing some research. AWIA plans on releasing a press release soon that outlines our stance, and also getting more active in campaigning against it.
Why bother, you say? Well, here are the main points I drew up in conclusion to my research.
1. It IS important to protect our youth. But NOT with a filter.
The Government themselves said, “Labor considers that, just as we teach Australian children about the risks of drink driving, we must also teach them how to be responsible cyber-citizens and about the importance of cyber-safety.”
That made me think of this example to explain filtering.
Filtering the Internet is like having a breath testing unit (that isn’t completely accurate) on everyone’s street, and everyone has to be tested before they can drive up their own driveway.
That would stop drink driving to some degree, but it would get false readings, slow everyone down, infringe our rights, and cost a lot of money and time.
2. It will filter innocent content, so EVERYONE won’t be able to reach some innocent material.
Think of this scenario if you have a web site. What happens if your web site gets filtered, even for a day or so, because the filter technology accidently added you to the black list. That is definitely possible with the current technology. For a business that can mean loss of business.
When the Government themselves did tests in June this year, their tests showed that on average 4% of innocuous sites were blocked. I think that’s a pretty significant number.
3. Filtering WILL slow the Internet down for EVERYONE.
Again, back to the Government’s tests. Which I should point out were not done in a real world environment, and could result in much worse performance because of the scale that will be required by ISPs.
On average, the filters slowed the bandwidth of the test network down by 42%.
4. It infringes EVERYONES freedom of speech.
The way the Government intends to filter the Internet is with two steps. The first is intended to protect children, and filter content the Government thinks they shouldn’t see. The second is on content it thinks should be banned.
Anyone of age can opt-out of the first step. Nobody can opt-out of the second.
That’s right, the Government is going to decide what we can and can’t see on the Internet, and their will be nothing you can do about it.
Lets ignore the fact that both steps should be opt-in, something you can request, rather than something that is thrust upon you. However, the Government isn’t going to even allow that.
5. It will cost EVERYONE more.
To start with the cost of implementing the technology by ISPs will be huge. It will cost them in infrastructure, as well as man power. Those costs will be handed down to customers.
Now think of the impact on you and your company if the Internet was 40% slower. What if you didn’t get some information because it was filtered incorrectly.
It’s already cost tax payers money, because I’m guessing the testing the Government did in June wasn’t free. It’s a $44.2 million policy. Money I can think of dozens of ways of putting to better use.
Overall the idea is ridiculous. It has so many flaws, and will have a significant impact on Australians, in so many negative ways, that any reasonable person will agree that it’s the wrong thing to do.
So stay tuned, because AWIA will soon have an action plan. But in the mean time, make as much noise as you can about it. Let everyone know about the negative effects.