Monday, August 27, 2007

You think you have freedom of speech, ? Think again

Freedom of speech is not something that has strings attached. It does not need to be balanced with other considerations of modesty, political correctness or inoffensiveness.

Freedom of speech is nothing if it does not include the freedom to offend. And in Australia, we do not have such freedom.

The internet is one such form of speech that is highly treasured by millions of individuals, and the Chinese can only dream of having an unregulated internet as their government filters content relating to political debate and protesters demanding democracy and liberty.

Well, Reason magazine is taking a critical look at Australia's ridiculous nanny-state mentality to filter and regulate internet content.

First a 16-year-old cracks the $84 million ($70m. US) government-built Internet porn filter in 30 minutes. Then they talk about it in bizarre ways. And conclude what Australia really needs is ISP-based content filtering.

Tom Wood is the cheeky fellow who did the deed for the Herald Sun. The tabloid describes Wood as a "former cyber bullying victim" as if we know what that means. Wood also complains that the filter is waste because it was designed outside of Australia. Obviously.

Sure enough, when the tabby contacts "the Government" an Australian-made filter is added to the list of Government-approved filters on the Government site. Tom then busts that sucker in 40 minutes.


A more pointless undertaking -- scheme, excuse me -- I cannot imagine. Australia has been on this kick for quite some time, so it is not by accident. There seems to be a conviction that the Internet should operate more or less exactly like a tightly regulated broadcast medium. Not broadband, but TV Plus.

Good luck with that.