Danny Yee >> Internet Censorship in Australia

Some thoughts on Internet hotlines

Consider the road system and driving laws. Many people break the law while driving, and this not infrequently causes crashes which kill and injure. Road accidents are obviously a serious problem. But most people have some idea of what is illegal on the roads - in fact most people who are using the roads have done a formal test, however simple, on the subject.

Now consider "Internet content". The law on this is difficult and uncertain, due to lack of precedents, jurisdictional complications, and the pace of technological change. The average Australian has vague understanding at best of the censorship law covering printed materials in their own jurisdiction - and none at all of the situation online. Also, online content doesn't kill people, any more than library books do.

Do we see campaigns urging people to turn in other motorists for running red lights? Nope. Do we see campaigns urging pedestrians to report drivers who nearly run them down at pedestrian crossings? Nope. But we spend millions on campaigns to get Internet users to report "content which they consider to be illegal".

Oh joy. My only consolation is that we may be able to have some fun running civil disobedience campaigns when Australia gets into this. We can ring up whenever we are bored and report some random site.

"I've stumbled over this site which promotes rat ownership."
"What do you mean, rat ownership isn't illegal?"
"Please, just take a look at the site, it's really disgusting."

Or, to go the other way, perhaps:

"I've discovered this site at <complex URL which is near-impossible to transcribe accurately over the phone and which has a numeric hostname somewhere behind a firewall which drops all ICMP traffic>. I think it's located in New South Wales, and it is clearly in violation of <cite NSW's incredibly broad child pornography legislation>".
Internet Censorship in Australia << Danny Yee