Thursday, July 8, 2010

The smell of strawmen in the morning...

It's nice to see that our new PM is fighting the good fight and throwing straw man arguments against all who would deem to disagree with the current Labor party policy of Filtering the Internet. It's hardly unexpected, Labor is doing anything to get reelected later this year; and it will be hard with State Labor in shambles and the brand tarnished by their perceived "flip-flopping".

But, sarcasm aside, Gillard is proving to be a master of the Straw man argument to defuse criticisms of her Government's positions. She managed to defuse Abbott temporarily on Asylum seekers by calling the "pro" boat people argument politically correct; though she suffered the same issue as all like policies in that the other governments in our region do not want to be holding pens for refugees bound for Australia. (Naru is virtually a client state, so doesn't really count. We bark and they will jump.) This week also saw the wonderful Straw man against criticism of the Internet filter:
''Images of child abuse, child pornography - they are not legal in our cinemas,'' the Prime Minister said.

''Why should you be able to see them on the internet? I think that's the kind of moral, ethical question at the heart of this.''

(From The Age 8/7/2010)


Implied is the idea that if you are against the Internet filter, you are pro child porn and that child porn is legal on the net. Well it isn't, the web's dark corners are as hidden as any den of inequity in a city; and they will still be there as accessible as ever once Conroy's wall comes down.

This, and the other policies coming out of this current government with reference to new media, show that policy makers have fundamentally no idea as to how the internet or communications work. As one who works in IT, and one who worked in IT at a High school in the past, URL based filtering is almost useless.

But that is not what really gets my goat. The bigger issue is not that X people will not be able to get the crazy prons they love, or that kids may not be able to torrent the latest Twilight film. No it's the gradual erasure of the traditional freedoms of western democracy.
Freedom of speech, freedom of association and freedom of belief, along with a free press are the rights that enlightened democracies are made up of. Post 2001, our anti-terrorism legislation basically crippled freedom of association, and the Internet filter moves seek to take out the other leg. Currently a Minister, not the Parliament, not a Judge not the Governor General, but a Minister can declare a group or organization to be undesirable. If you associate with that group or organization you can be arrested and detained without charge or trial. Even if found innocent, you can have your movements restricted by the Federal police.
In the same manner, the Minister can ban websites and does not have to inform the public he is doing so under this legislation. This is fine when it's the "Bad Guys" being hit, but these laws have no checks against abuse of these powers. In effect, if we one day elected a government the likes of which we have seen at state levels (*cough* Queensland *cough*) in this country before to a Federal level, we could see all sorts of groups and ideas put on a "Ban" list. What if a Prime Minister with a majority in both houses, wanted to declare the opposition a "terrorist" organization? Of course that sort of thing never happens, and neither does Torture in US custody or Dictatorships that are unpopular with their subjects...