Friday, December 18, 2009

Internet Filtering

Dear Senator Conroy,

While there are very few people who would complain about action being taken against the availability of child pornography, it seems the vast majority of informed people agree that the proposed internet filter is simply not the way to go about it. To proceed with this action will have very little effect against the obvious primary target, as such material is apparently spread largely though Peer to Peer (P2P) networks and other methods which would be unaffected by the filter.

It is also reported that targets for the filter are to include other material deemed unfit, or "unclassifiable" by the government. I'm afraid that most people, myself included, do not consider censoring material available to the rest of the world to be part of a democratic government role. In fact it would be a disgusting perversion of the that role to start bocking access to anything that it considered unfit without first gaining absolute agreement from the citizens it is elected to serve on what exactly this material should be. And I mean 100% agreement from all citizens.

Nobody is going to publicly support blatant child pornography, so you'd think the blocking of such material would gain this absolute agreement but, as evidenced earlier this year with the outcry against legitimate, artistic photography of children, even this broad heading contains grey areas. It is extremely important, essential even, that the arbitrary judgements of a few do not become entrenched as an absolute ruling on what is and isn't suitable for the entire population.

Governments are elected to run things. Finance, health care, infrastructure, etc. They are not elected as a moral minority bent on promoting ignorance on matters such as euthanasia, drugs, religion or any other topic you may consider yourselves qualified to decide upon. Nor should it be governments' role to act upon such judgements by restricting access to any side of any debate. No government, or minority group of any kind, is qualified to make such decisions except in the most obvious cases which everyone agrees on. And let's face it, there are very few things that everyone agrees on, if any.

There are also the widely argued points of the slowing down of the internet which this filter would cause, and other technical aspects which I freely admit I am not qualified to argue about. The problem is, however, that neither are you. Testing of the system has been limited and the promised public consultation process has been limited to a few details which do not include the central issue of whether or not to even have a filter at all. This is unacceptable and I remind you that this is a democracy. You are our elected govenrment, not our nanny.

Yours sincerely,

Derek Armsden