Saturday, January 9, 2010

Dear Minister Conroy

I forwarded correspondence to Australia's Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, on 17/12/09 in relation to the announcement of compulsory internet filtering.

Original correspondence included:
Dear Minister Conroy

I am outraged with the announcement that compulsory internet filtering will proceed.

There are currently around 110 million operational websites online with in excess of 25 billion indexed pages. How does one review 25 billion pages and counting? Even if only 1% of those pages were “prohibited content”, no organization could hope to apply a meaningful filter solution; it would be like trying to arrest a locust plague with a butterfly net.

It is clear from the outset that this policy has nothing to do with “protecting citizens/children” and has everything to do with government censoring any internet content that they so choose, in a targeted manner, as this is the only manner feasible.

I was not aware that websites are assigned classifications (and I'm a website owner), so I investigated. The Australian Classification Board provides classifications on internet content to the ACMA on request, if and only if, the ACMA receives a complaint about internet content. According to the ACMA website; “The ACMA can only take action about material that is prohibited, or potentially prohibited, under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992.”

Scanning through, it would appear that the Broadcasting Services Act, amended Nov 20, 2009, already contains the provisions for compulsory internet filtering.

In summary, the Act bestows the ACMA with the power to enforce that all ISPs deny access to any internet content that is rated X 18+ or refused classification (RC).

Already RC is applied to an ever increasing number of films by the Australian office of censorship (Classification Board), making them illegal in Australia, and all video games are RC by default if they cannot meet the MA15+ standard.

Dictating that adults should not be free to choose adult entertainment has no place in a "democracy"

If we really lived in a democracy, a majority voice would prevail. That majority voice has for the past year, been strongly advising you against this policy, and yet you remain unmoved in a position contrary to common sense. Why don't you just come out and say you hold no regard for public opinion if that is the case?

I received reply on the 4th Jan 2010 in the form of an attached PDF – “Cyber-safety and internet service provider filtering”.

While I appreciate the response, the PDF (outlining the filtering policy), does little in addressing any of the concerns I submitted.

Further, the PDF contradicts the Broadcasting Services Act.

From the “Cyber-safety and internet service provider filtering” (PDF) I received:
“For families that wish to have a wider range of material filtered, including potentially X18+ content and gaming sites, the Government will establish a grants program to encourage ISPs to offer these services on a commercial basis.”

From Broadcasting Services Act 1992
Amended Nov 20, 2009
Vol 2:
If, in the course of an investigation under Division 2 of Part 3 of Schedule 7, the ACMA is satisfied that Internet content hosted outside Australia is prohibited content or potential prohibited content, the ACMA must:

Give each Internet service provider known to the ACMA a written notice (a standard access-prevention notice) directing the provider to take all reasonable steps to prevent end-users from accessing the content.

Prohibited Content:

For the purposes of this Schedule, content (other than content that consists of an eligible electronic publication) is prohibited content if:

(a) The content has been classified RC or X 18+ by the Classification Board; or

(b) Both:

(i) The content has been classified R 18+ by the Classification Board; and

(ii) Access to the content is not subject to a restricted access system.

Naturally, I submitted another email to the office of Minister Conroy, as follows:
Minister Conroy, are you oblivious to the laws relating to your own portfolio (X 18+ is prohibited online content), or are you intentionally misleading the public when you claim “ISPs will be encouraged to offer filtering” of X18+ content?

I think it appropriate that you actually answer this question and not send another PDF in response which 1) tells me what I already know, and 2) raises even more questions.

I also expect an answer to the following, and will continue to send correspondence until I receive reply that does address my questions.

1) How can you claim that “a defined list of URLs can be filtered with 100 per cent accuracy” when it was revealed in trials that the web pages of a Queensland tour operator, boarding kennel and a dentist, as well as online gambling sites, You Tube links, regular porn and fetish sites and Wikileaks pages had all been included in the ACMA’s secret “defined list”?

2) There are currently approximately 25 billion indexed web pages world wide, how do you propose a meaningful “defined list” solution for that volume?

3) All video games are classified RC by default in Australia if they cannot meet the MA15+ standard, why are you proposing that adults should not be free to choose adult entertainment?

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy can be contacted via: Please email the Minister to express your own concerns.

Censorship issues have inspired the birth of a new political party in South Australia, gamers4croydon.
We are committed to running candidates in next year's (2010) South Australia election, with specific emphasis on the Croydon electorate.


There are several reasons, but the main and driving reason is to exert pressure on the Attorney General for South Australia, Michael Atkinson, as he is currently the only Attorney General voting 'no' against the introduction of an R18+ classification rating for videogames in Australia.

Trivial, right? No!

This is about every adult's right to engage in whatever kind of lawful entertainment they see fit. This is about fighting censorship and enabling freedom of expression through art. This is about bringing Australia into line with every other progressive country in the world and letting our adults play adult-oriented material.
Read more from gamers4croydon...

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