Sunday, October 19, 2008

Censorship gone mad I say!

I find myself reiterating my sentiments on the sedition laws set down by John Howard’s 2005 Anti-terrorism Act. These feelings however, are now towards my beloved K-Train and his new internet filtering scheme.After receiving my daily Crikey update last Friday I was shocked by the idea that now our government is planning to take control of one of, if not the biggest tool of free speech and democracy which we have. The government is now going to censor the internet. But as Duncan Riley of the Inquisitor said,
“Won’t someone think of the adults?”

I am glad of the prime minister’s Mandarin tongue and seemingly blossoming relationship with the Chinese Government however, this all seems a little too familiar to me, and no doubt to the Chinese government who have strict policies restricting various internet content to their country.

The issue really at hand is how censorship of this nature will affect our rights as citizens of a democratic country to participate in democracy and most importantly free speech. The line is yet to drawn as to what exactly will be censored but the Government has included Adult websites or porn on their 'to be blocked' list. It seems silly that this material, being X and R rated pornography, is readily available at the local newsagent or petrol station but it is now being deemed inappropriate for adults to access online.There are two options for Online Aussies, one being a children's version of the internet and the other censoring illegal materials. So if this legislation is to go through, the government will have control over all viewing on the internet and neither option will offer any of the aforementioned "inappropriate material."

I personally don't have a huge issue with the removal of porn from the internet, what i do have an issue with however, is the infringements on free speech and our ability to access to materials. I think that as adults we have the right to view whatever material we like wether on line, on TV or in magazines as long as it does not involve children. As a media student, the idea that we are able to be censored so easily by the government worries me, how can we be sure that this same sort of censorship won’t follow through to our newspapers, our televisions, our radios, art galleries and theatres? Where are our rights as contributors to the internet and other media forms, to produce quality, realistic and at times shocking art?
A letter from owner of Adult to the minister for communication voices concerns about jobs moving overseas and the possibility of many online businesses being shut down due to the posting of unsavoury material by visitors to the site. This is not the only concern for online business; the filtering scheme is predicted to slow all internet connections from 30 up to 80 percent. This will no doubt have an affect on all businesses, especially in concerns to email usage.
All in all i think that the proposed taming of our online world is not only going to call to question the government’s ideas of the Freedom of Information Act and free speech but will also create a divide between net users who wish to be excluded from the filtered internet option and the state. Not only does this present moral issues, the cost of running such a scheme is high, already 40 million dollars has been budgeted for this project. In a time where economic crisis is causing a huge strain on government funds, can we really afford to police our internet as heavily as the government would like? On more than just a financial level, I think not.

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