The USS Quad Damage

Say goodbye to the internet

So we’re going to have internet filtering. That link is a new zealander saying “oh, poor Australia. Here let me give you a hug.” I feel insulted, and you shuld too. You can see the EFA’s reaction here. At least Johnny Howard’s scheme was purely a waste of money rather than shoving censorship down our throats:

Labor’s mandatory ISP filtering scheme would be a token gesture that blocked only a few thousand pages identified by ACMA. Labor’s plan does not include provision of additional funding to enable ACMA to employ a large number of staff to look for potentially prohibited content among the 8 billion pages on the World Wide Web, in order to develop a vastly larger blocking list necessary to more effectively protect children.

Everyone always says “oh it's to stop child porn”, and to “protect our children”... Protect our children from what? Child porn? Isn’t kids looking at child porn... kind of... not that bad? EFA says:

Content identified by the ACMA as ‘prohibited content’ under Australian law is a relatively small category of content in terms of the many categories of content that parents may consider unsuitable for their children. The ‘prohibited content’ category consists of content that would be ‘Refused Classification’ (child sexual abuse, acts of extreme violence or cruelty, etc) or would be classified X18+ (non violent sexually explicit). It does not include content that would be classified R18+ that is hosted on overseas site, nor does it include any content that would be classified MA15+, M or PG. Hence blocking of only ‘prohibited content’ would not be effective in protecting children from material that may be unsuitable for them.

Anyway, here’s the EFA on what we’ve got already. And here’s the analysis of how much of a waste of money that was:

* Approximately half of the prohibited items designated as hosted in Australia were found in world-wide Usenet newsgroups, most likely originated outside Australia, and were not taken down from the Internet. * The ABA’s refusal to provide the URLs or titles of taken-down Australian-hosted web pages, on the ground that such information would enable a person to access prohibited content on the Internet, indicates the ABA believes such content has not been taken down from the Internet. * Ministerial statements trumpeting the success of the scheme have been, by the Minister’s own admission, based on erroneous statistics. * Misleading statements have been made by the government about the proportion of prohibited content that is actual child pornography.

So, the new mandatory internet filtering regime exists to block not all that much content by people who don’t have time to check for what should and shouldn’t be blocked. My worry is that this filtering may have unintended consequences.

What if some lazy censor goes and censors a whole subnet? What if there’s some illegal site on my host and it stops my site from showing up? That’s the kind of shit I’m worried about. The filtering causes me, some ordinary dude with a website, to lose my audience. I’m also worried that sites like boingboing may have issues (I mean, it’s pretty much universally banned by filters for god knows what reason), but TBH I’d just go uncensored “just to be safe”.

The biggest shit here is that the filtering system does nothing to stop me from getting malware, spam, or even ads to the really extreme porn sites which are blocked. Between me worrying that my kid / parents are going to see some extreme shit like child porn or fucking my computer with malware, I know what I’m more worried about.

After all, if you asked someone who.. you know.. used the internet, they’d tell you just how pissed off they are with malware and spam, but none of them complain about how they’re “accidentally” ending up with child porn on their machines. This legislation really only pleases old people who’ve only heard of the internet and don’t actually use it.

There isn’t that much bad shit on the internet unless you really look for it, and Google will stop really bad shit from turning up in your searches anyway. This scheme stops adults from getting at child porn, but they could easily get at it by opting out. Meanwhile the rest of us are as fucked as the kids in the pornos. It’s a useless and inconvenient waste of money.