BUT Australia is about to launch into something that, just for once, fits well into George Orwells nightmare prophesy of our future. And just for once I think that we do need to be concerned. Very concerned.
It's the Great Aussie Firewall. Here's a quote from GetUp.org
Imagine a government proposing an internet censorship system that went further than any other democracy - one that made the internet up to 87% slower, more expensive, accidentally blocked up to one in 12 legitimate sites, and missed the vast majority of inappropriate content.
The system that Senator Conroy wants is a mandatory filter of all internet traffic, with the government of the day able to add any unwanted site to a secret blacklist. Already, the wrangling has begun for the inclusion of material relating to anorexia, euthanasia and gambling. It isn't difficult to see the scheme is open to abuse.
Even when it comes to preventing child p-rnography, the filter will not prevent peer-to-peer sharing and is very simple to sidestep. The protection of our children is vitally important - that's why we can't afford to waste funds on this deeply flawed system. We should be concentrating on solutions that are more effective and won't undermine our digital economy or our democratic freedoms.
Now I'll add my opinion to this. How sure are you that - in addition to blocking any site that the goverment considers 'inappropriate' - they won't also monitor accesses to sites (blocked or not) to keep information trails on your internet viewing, your internet interests and your internet use?
Some questions that come to my mind immediately are:
1. How does it handle information on subsites? E.g. blogger.com may contain information that the government doesn't want you to see (naked ladies or party political information leakages!) - so is all of blogger.com blocked? or only part?
2. How does it handle secure connections? That is, httpS. Will these be unencrypted by our government? If so then say goodbye to any private information. They'll have it all, bank account details, passwords - whatever. And such pages which are already slowed by the encryption/decryption process will be at least doubly slow. But if they dont then all the port you want will just be made available via encrypted connections..... so the stuff they want to control will be uncontrollable and the stuff they shouldn't know about will be laid bare.
3. Who decides what sites are inappropriate? I run a site called TowardsPeace.com which advocates World Peace and prayer. Will this be banned? What if I say I disagree with the government's (unjustifiable) stand on cluster bombs? On land mines? Will that get the terrorism box checked? Or the treason box? Or the 'inappropriate information' box? What appeals are there? Could any normal person afford such an appeal?
4. The best and worst of technology is it's power. You cannot restrict the technology because there will always be ways around it. It is impossible and naive to think that you can. In fact, as is my argument for Word Peace, you must change the people. Without the demand for 'unhealthy' websites, there would be none. As always, the government is trying to fix a problem with it's head stuck in a bucket of blacmange!
5. What guarentee can we receive that our internet trails will not be monitored, that we our tastes, shopping interests and so forth will not be captured and used for some 'reason'?
Visit the GetUp site and stop this lunacy!