The Government is coming for your Facebook

watchdogfilteringThe Rudd government plans a “real world live pilot” of Senator Conroy’s opt-out ISP-based filtering, starting next month. Internode and Iinet have already spoken out against the plan.

New Zealand filtering company “Watchdog” is drooling over the opportunity to milk the Australian internet-paranoia market. Watchdog has started writing to ISPs offering “partnering” opportunities.

Watchdog’s slogan? “Get the worst out of the internet.” Har.

Their front page is worrying. Watchdog blocks “harmful” content? Sure. Good luck trying, but sure. Whatever.

They also block “inappropriate” content. We’ve talked before about the dangers of trying to determine what is “inappropriate”. (See also here and here.) Internet filters have, in the past, blocked access to feminist sites, political sites, youth work sites, birth control information sites, AIDS information sites, disability information sites, religious tolerance sites, major news media, and the Vatican.

But it gets worse.

Not only does Watchdog plan to block content it deem harmful or inappropriate, it plans to block “unproductive information“:

The Internet is a brilliant tool , opening up a world of opportunities but the uncontrolled nature of it means that dangerous, inappropriate or simply unproductive information can be accessed with the touch of a button.

Unproductive information“. Think about that for a minute.


Do you really want Mr Rudd or the profiteers behind Watchdog to decide what use of your internet time is or isn’t “productive”?

Anyone who thinks that proposed filters will only block domains set up exclusively for child pornography? Think again. The web-panic articles posted on the Watchdog site focus almost exclusively on social networking sites such as Bebo and Myspace.

Repeat after me: There is no sensitive, specific way to filter the internet. No across-the-board proposals are technically feasible and effective. None. And there isn’t any way to argue around that.

[Hat tip to Ken Taylor from Highway1.]

Categories: technology

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5 replies

  1. The web-panic articles posted on the Watchdog site focus almost exclusively on social networking sites such as Bebo and Myspace.

    And after that they’ll turn to the blogs, youbetcha.

  2. Damnit, I *want* my internet time to be unproductive. It’s what I’m using the silly thing for. It’s a way of procrastinating, a way of avoiding housework, a way of not having to try and think of a thousand and two excuses why I should get up off my arse and actually *do* something. Gods above, I’m a rational adult – surely I can be trusted to choose my own form of entertainment in the privacy of my own home?

  3. To me, their whole wrongheaded net policies is the biggest disappointment of my new overlords.
    Amandas last blog post..Incomparable!

  4. The general wowserism is a bit of a worry, too. I’m officially a “binge drinker” now, because I have three or four drinks (over the course of an evening, with food) maybe three or four times a year. Is this going to affect my insurance?
    But they haven’t really done anything worryingly legislative about booze yet. (Tax on alcopops? Big deal.) What could they do? Lowering the drink driving limit would be a bit of a pain in the arse, speaking as someone who always leaves a large margin for error.
    Any other guesses as to what’s next on the list?

  5. I think the govt-wowsers-on-binge-drinking panic is rather a beat up. The four middies thing comes from an unreleased National Health and Medical Research Council report which will outline guidelines on various levels of risk (as I understand it), not from Nicola Roxon and her own comments on it were nothing special.
    But I agree they need to have an eye kept on ‘em.
    Amandas last blog post..Incomparable!

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