04 January 2009

The Great Wall of Australia update

Just to keep up to date, the international media are expressing their incredulity that we'd do this, just as similar moves appear in limited form in the UK and USA:

Here's an example of the identification of internet freedom with being pro-kiddie-p_rn reported by Zero Paid: Australian Internet Filtering Plan Will Be Mandatory for Everyone - No Opt-Out. PC Mag has a short piece about Burnham's "Internet Ratings" proposal, making some very good points:

Now, let's look at Burnham's target—the Internet. It's just like movies, TV, and video games, right? Some content, some access points, and a bunch of unsuspecting consumers who need ratings help. Not quite.

The Web is to movies and TV as a Boeing 767 is to a toy plane. Movies and TV have a relatively small amount of content coming through a fixed set of venues (networks, movie theaters, and the like). There are billions of Web sites, and it's just as easy to access the first one as it is the billionth—from any connected location in the world.

What Burnham (and Conroy) fails to realise is that the internet is not broadcasting or publishing in the traditional sense. There is no single transmitter, but hundreds of thousands, and there is no single market, but thousands, with millions, indeed billions of users. For a rating scheme to succeed, or the Great Wall to work, you have to force fit the internet into the traditional publishing model, which effectively means, controlling the transmitters. And since there are none, the common carriers, the ISPs, are the only point of control. So we should expect to see more government attempts to do this sort of thing via the ISPs.

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