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Australia, as you may or may not be aware, has some of the most repressive censorship laws in the western world. We just happen to be fortunate that law enforcement, by and large, see enforcing our draconian legislation to be an utter waste of time and money. What is deeply concerning is the level of censorship is getting worse. Quickly.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has just released new rules for ‘age restricted internet and mobile content’ that will take effect on January 20th. To say that they are both onerous for all parties and highly intrusive is an understatement. Here’s the gist, in handy point-format:

  • “The new Restricted Access Systems Declaration places obligations on all content service providers to check that individuals accessing restricted content provided in Australia are at least 15 years of age for MA15+ content or 18 years of age for R18+ content. ” Note that they say provided, not hosted. Fortunately, they have no hope in hell of forcing content providers based offshore into complying. Less fortunately, Labour has a plan to counter this.
  • “Similar to previous obligations relating to stored content, the new rules provide that after receiving a complaint and investigating internet or mobile content, ACMA may require the content service provider to either remove the content or place the content behind specified access restrictions.”
  • “A prohibition on X18+ and RC content.” X18+ is the rating for porn, even straight up, heterosexual missionary sex.
  • “Providers of hosting services, live content services, link services and commercial content services to have in place access restrictions if providing R18+ and commercial MA15+ content”
  • An access control system must “limit access to the content through use of a PIN or some other means”
  • “The acces control system must make provision for the keeping of records to demonstrate how the age of the applicant has been verified in relation to each applicant who has been granted access to r18+ content.” These records must “be kept for two years starting on the day in which the record is made”.

Bad enough, right? Now go and combine this with the mandatory ISP filtering legislation federal Labour is itching to introduce, and the picture becomes bleak indeed, not to mention a colossal waste of time and money. If children need to be protected so badly from the dangers of the interweb, why don’t we just make it illegal for individuals under 15 to surf without parental supervision?

Published in: on December 26, 2007 at 2:12 am  Comments (3)  
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Give this man a goddamn medal

“The library system is not a baby-sitting service, and the librarians are not our children’s nannies,” he said. “Let’s not surrender our parental responsibility to a software package, the librarians and the county government.”

Fair enough, I’m actually against porn in the library, because:

  • Australian law is different to US law
  • Our computers offer no privacy (which prevents people from looking at porn in my experience, anyway)
  • Muggins here is the resident technowiz and does not want to go anywhere near a keyboard or mouse when someone’s been jerking off in front of it, and would refuse on the grounds that it’s an Occupational Health and Safety issue.

But the above statement remains valid. If you don’t want your precious little snowflake to see something that might damage his or her delicate sensibilities, come to the library with them. Sit with them while they surf the web. Read books before they do. Playtest computer games, read up on movies before you dump them at the cinema, do your job as a parent. Don’t foist the responsibility off on to me because, frankly, it’s not my responsibility. And I don’t actually care if your 13-year-old checks out a sex manual. She and her friends are probably going to giggle and think it’s kind of icky.

I do care if you try to make me start filtering the net. Because, you know, filtering software sucks, and has this nasty tendency to block out valuable information, particularly about health issues. Can filtering software always tell the difference between when I’m looking for porn and when I’m looking for information on breast cancer? And it’s not that much harder to censor access to, say, opposing religious views on the grounds that they’re immoral and harmful to children than it is to ban porn on those grounds.

Published in: on November 13, 2007 at 2:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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