Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Opportunism versus vagueries

Seeing the chance to create mischief Senator Minchin has today declared that "Underlying the Rudd Government's plan to screen the internet is an offensive message: that parents cannot be trusted to mind their children online."

This is just another great pieces of opportunism by a coalition that seems to forget they were the Government for the last twelve years. In trawling through every whirlpool post or Stligherrian blog to cobble this column together Minchin is happily ignoring that the mess in the BSA that treats Refused Classification and R18+/X18+ material together was his Government's creation.

Meanwhile Minister Conroy was addressing the ALIA Online Conference. In it he made a succinct defence of his policy. He acknowledged "concerns with ISP level filtering" adding that they "seem to focus on two aspects - technical issues and freedom of speech." He noted the differences between index-based filtering and dynamic filtering and repeated the objective of simply putting these to test - t enable "evidence based policy".

He went on;

And while we acknowledge there are technical issues to be tested, the Government does not view this debate as an argument about freedom of speech. Freedom of speech is fundamentally important in a democratic society and there has never been any suggestion that the Australian Government would seek to block political content.

In this context, claims that the Government's policy is analogous to the approach taken by countries such as Iran, China and Saudi Arabia are not justified.

Australian society has always accepted that there is some material which is not acceptable, particularly for children. That is why we have the National Classification Scheme. Like internet content, publications, films and video games are subject to regulation.

Libraries well know that there is regulation under existing Commonwealth, State and Territory legislation which makes it an offence to distribute certain material.

I know which of these two is making more sense - even if it does mean I'll be thought a Labor stooge.

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