Dear Minister Conroy,

24Dec09

An (open) letter to Australian Federal Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Stephen Conroy about the proposed mandatory ISP filter.

Dear Minister Conroy, 

I am an IT professional with 10 years experience, I currently work for a Queensland Government department as a Technical and Security Architect (IT).  I am also a father of two great kids who are approaching net surfing age. 

I read with interest your letter to Crikey (23rd December) in which you set the record straight on a number of issues raised by campaigners against mandatory Internet filtering.  I agree with your sentiment that some areas of the debate are loosing sight of the facts.

While we are picking our way through the issues, I would like to pick you up on a couple of sections of your letter to Crikey:

“Let me repeat the government has been clear that mandatory filtering will only apply to RC-rated content.” (near the end)

To my mind this (in bold) is a crucial aspect to the debate, and one that you have misrepresented in this statement.  In fact ALL content will be filtered and only RC-rated content will be blocked.  I imagine that is what you mean, but the fact that ALL content will be filtered is my main objection to your planned policy implementation.

I object to having Government controlled infrastructure inline with (and monitoring) my Internet use.   For me its a matter of privacy.   Bruce Schneier (notary IT security specialist) said it well when he wrote: 

“Privacy is an inherent human right, and a requirement for maintaining the human condition with dignity and respect.”

Privacy is not about hiding a wrong:

“We do nothing wrong when we make love or go to the bathroom. We are not deliberately hiding anything when we seek out private places for reflection or conversation. We keep private journals, sing in the privacy of the shower, and write letters to secret lovers and then burn them. Privacy is a basic human need.”  (more … http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2006/05/the_value_of_pr.html)

What is next?  Will the Government start monitoring the sender addresses of my mail? 

Throughout this debate, and again in your letter to Crikey you make statements such as this:

“This [RC] content is not available in newsagencies, on library shelves, at the cinema or on DVD and you certainly can’t watch it on TV.”

And ask the question:

“Why shouldn’t Australian ISPs be required to block access to such content?”

Well it’s a completely different model that’s why.  Newsagencies, libraries, cinema’s and TV stations don’t ‘block’ access to anything.  The Government does not mandate the installation of technology that will be able to identify and block patrons of these outlets who attempt to access (inadvertently or otherwise) RC material.  That’s why.   These are all ‘old world’ systems that can be controlled by old world thinking, the digital world is vastly different and can’t be controlled in the same way.

What I want to see, and what I believe will satisfy all but the staunchest opponents of this proposed legislation is choice.   Just change one word, “mandatory”.   Help turn Australia from a laughing stock of the western digital world, to a nation of digital leaders by educating them on the choices they can make. 

Please change the proposed legislation to make an ISP filter an opt-in choice.  Then you will have my support.

Regards

Mike Chambers

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2 Responses to “Dear Minister Conroy,”

  1. 1 tickets

    I think that government censorship is inevitable. In fact the banks have been monitoring our activity for years as does centrelink and the ATO. So government censorship is the lasted attempt to keep control over the community.

    However, I am all for control if it protects the innocence of children, which is a message that appears to be lost in this.


  1. 1 Conroy will ruin the internet for Australia | Web advice for business

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