The ABC reports today:
Gillard backs internet filter
Prime Minister Julia Gillard says she is happy with the policy aim of the Government’s proposed internet filter, but understands there are concerns about it.
The Government plans to introduce a mandatory filter to block sites that contain illegal material.
Ms Gillard says images of child abuse or child pornography should not be accessible on the internet.
But she has acknowledged the concerns raised by critics of the plan.
“I understand that there’s a set of concerns, technical concerns about internet speed, and also concerns that this somehow [moves] into taking away legitimate use of the internet,” she said.
“It’s not my intention that we in any way jeopardise legitimate use of the internet.”
This is a wholly inadequate statement by the Prime Minister.
It amounts to an insult to the hundreds of thousands of Australians who have expressed concern over this issue in recent years.
Ms Gillard acknowledges ‘concerns’ about the Government’s mandatory censorship proposals – but doesn’t articulate a rational response to the concerns or offer a process to resolve public concerns in a reasonable way. That’s appalling.
As a modest consolation prize, I imagine that now Julia Gillard has raised the issue of mandatory Internet censorship, at least some mainstream journalists will see fit to ask her questions on the topic. Let’s hope their questions have a hard edge.
It’s not for a government censor to decide what is “legitimate use of the internet”. That’s a matter for the community. Government is entitled only to intervene to protect the community against demonstrable harm – and even then should be subject to clear and judicially-enforced rules.
All along, my principal concern is that the proposal to censor the Internet is (1) spook-driven, and (2) pushed by elements within the powerful Zionist Lobby for their own sectarian interests. In this article, I’ll deal only with the first of these concerns, with reference to a couple of specific incidents in Australia’s recent history.
Case One: the Sydney Hilton bombing atrocity, committed in 1978 on Australian soil. It has never been investigated by any government inquiry at any time over the last 32 years, despite a bipartisan resolution in the NSW Legislative Assembly calling for an inquiry – as well as repeated appeals from members of the public including a surviving victim of the bomb blasts.
That survivor, incidentally, former policeman Terry Griffiths, claims he was told privately that the incident never would be investigated, because it was an ‘inside job’ gone wrong (after the blast, ASIO’s budget was significantly increased due to heightened concerns about ‘terrorism’).
Now… here’s my question to Prime Minister Gillard.
Is it legitimate to use the Internet to investigate the Hilton bombings and to try to bring the real perpetrators to justice?
I imagine she’d answer yes, so I have a further question:
How can the Prime Minister ensure that her government – and all future governments – do not allow censors, operating in secrecy, to use their censorship powers to constrain free debate on a topic such as that?
The short answer is that she cannot. There can be no guarantee about future ‘mission creep’. There can be no guarantee that members of ‘intelligence agencies’ – whose agenda may well not be wholly legitimate or congruent with the interests of the general public – will not misuse censorship powers. As members of the ‘intelligence agencies’ are known to operate under long-term cover in numerous cases, the government can’t even be sure its censorship appointees aren’t spooks, even if it wanted to.
Case Two: the Port Arthur massacre, used in the late 1990s to justify a tightening of gun laws throughout Australia. There has never been an inquest, nor any public inquiry into this atrocity. The matter went to court, but only for the defendant to plead guilty; hence evidence of his guilt was never tested in court. To be even more precise, although Martin Bryant pleaded guilty at trial, prior to that he’d insisted on his innocence until a new barrister was found for him. The second barrister has since been found guilty of serious multiple offences and de-registered.
Suspicions abound that the Port Arthur killings were also some manner of gruesome ‘inside job’.
Does Julia Gillard believe that citizens may legitimately discuss unresolved issues surrounding the Port Arthur massacre via the web?
One hopes so.
Can she guarantee such investigations won’t be impeded by mandatory government censorship?
No she can’t.
If the Prime Minister is genuine about her determination to not “jeopardise legitimate use of the internet”, I challenge her to:
1) Describe in detail what the Gillard Government means by “jeopardise legitimate use of the internet”
2) Commit to enshrine Article 19 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights explicitly in Australian law.
Australians deserve a legislated RIGHT to free speech as clear and unambiguous as this: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
Furthermore, if the Prime Minister wishes to reassure the public that her Government’s agenda is not, in reality, controlled by clandestine behind-the-scenes forces, I challenge her to commit to holding a public inquiry into the circumstances of the Hilton bombings and Port Arthur massacres.
It would not be before time.
In the case of Port Arthur, it is possible (some believe likely) that an innocent man remains incarcerated because of past governmental criminality. That possibility should not be left uninvestigated any longer.
I do hope this is not the Prime Minister’s last word on the topic of Internet censorship before the election – and that sane heads prevail within the ALP leadership.
For all I know, News Corp may have reassured the Government that Internet censorship will not feature as a major election issue. The ‘go-alongs’ at the ABC may be on board too. Just like they’ve dropped the subjects of the Hilton bombing and Port Arthur massacres almost entirely down their ‘memory holes’, those who control the mainstream media may imagine they can do the same with Internet censorship.
But as of 2010, neither News Corp nor the ABC control Australians’ use of the Internet.
There’s a lot of us out here and we’re getting focused. Beware the wrath of a populace scorned.
The shallow intellectual foundations of a crapulous policy
Gillard’s comments in more detail:
“Clearly you can’t walk into a cinema in Australia and see certain things and we shouldn’t on the internet be able to access those things either so Stephen Conroy is working to get this in the right shape.
“I’m happy with the policy aim and the policy aim is if there are images of child abuse, child pornography … they are not legal in our cinemas, you would not be able to go to the movies and watch that … you shouldn’t … no one should want to see that.
“You’re not able to go to the movies and see those kinds of things why should you be able to see them on the internet? I think that that’s the kind of moral, ethical question at the heart of this.”
See also Internet Censorship is about Text, not Sex