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09 Jan 2009

A Guide : Internet Filter Action

  1. Meet with your local ALP MP or Senator.
  2. Have a conversation with them about the internet filter, ideally focusing on The Message (below).
  3. Add the meeting details in a comment – the post will be updated accordingly (please comment if you’ve already met with a politician about this issue).
  4. Spread the word, and encourage others to do the same.

The Goal

To meet with as many ALP MPs and Senators, and share the message below. If you don’t have an ALP representative, then visit a Senator for your State instead. A face-to-face meeting is highly recommended, as it’s far more effective than an email or letter, and you’re more likely to have a sensible discussion, rather than getting a form letter response. If pressed for time, a phone call may suffice, but do everything you can to speak to the politician in question, not one of their staff members.

Even if your member is already listed below as having had someone else meet with them, another meeting with another concerned citizen will help solidify the message that there are serious problems with the Government’s proposed legislation.

I recommend using the message below – obviously some peoples’ opinions will differ, and I sympathise (and agree) with the concerns of censorship and grey lines of what the filter will and will not block. However, we need to find some common ground and try to direct their attention to what we feel is a better approach.

When you have a meeting organised, please add the details in a comment below, so we all have some idea of which politicians have been met with, and which still need a visit.

Don’t forget: both houses return to Parliament in February, so try to organise a meeting before then!

The Message

The goal of the Government’s Internet Filter is laudable. We have no argument with wanting to stop child pornography, and make sure children aren’t exposed to the darker corners of the internet. The problem is with the approach: an opt-out internet filter will not work.

  • There are plenty of legal tools that route around filtering: those who want to seek out such material will be able to.
  • The filter trials have been focused on HTTP traffic, with no attention given to peer-to-peer file sharing or instant messaging.
  • Filtering BitTorrent and other peer-to-peer traffic is not feasible – an analogy is monitoring every single phone call in Australia.
  • It gives the impression the internet will now be safe for children, ignoring situations where children are groomed by pedophiles via chat rooms and social networks, and may potentially meet face to face with these people.
  • It will slow the internet down to some extent.

That doesn’t mean there are no worthwhile solutions that should be investigated, such as the following:

  • Opt-in filter for those who desire it – whether offered by ISPs or as a downloadable tool.
  • Education for parents – via TAFE courses and similar.
  • Compulsory education for children in schools on what to be aware of when using the internet.
  • Increased funding for the AFP.

The Government’s current approach is a waste of money – particularly worrying in these financially uncertain times. We encourage the Government to change their tact for making the internet safer for Australians to use, and hope they employ some of the more effective ideas as suggested above.

Representatives

(Alphabetical by Surname)

  • Dick Adams (Lyons)
  • Anthony Albanese (Grayndler)
  • Arch Bevis (Brisbane)
  • James Bidgood (Dawson)
  • Sharon Bird (Cunningham – NSW)
  • Chris Bowen (Prospect)
  • David Bradbury (Lindsay)
  • Tony Burke (Watson)
  • Mark Butler (Port Adelaide – SA)
  • Anthony Byrne (Holt)
  • Jodie Campbell (Bass)
  • Nick Champion (Wakefield)
  • Darren Cheeseman (Corangamite)
  • Jason Clare (Blaxland)
  • Julie Collins (Franklin)
  • Greg Combet (Charlton)
  • Simon Crean (Hotham)
  • Yvette D’Ath (Petrie)
  • Michael Danby (Melbourne Ports – VIC)
    • Steve Hopkins – Nothing Yet Scheduled
  • Bob Debus (Macquarie)
  • Mark Dreyfus (Isaacs)
  • Justine Elliot (Richmond)
  • Annette Ellis (Canberra – ACT)
  • Kate Ellis (Adelaide – SA)
  • Craig Emerson (Rankin)
    • Ashley Angell – Nothing Yet Scheduled
  • Laurie Ferguson (Reid)
  • Martin Ferguson (Batman – VIC)
  • Joel Fitzgibbon (Hunter)
  • Peter Garrett (Kingsford Smith – NSW)
  • Steve Georganas (Hindmarsh)
  • Jennie George (Throsby)
  • Steve Gibbons (Bendigo – VIC)
  • Julia Gillard (Lalor – VIC)
  • Gary Gray (Brand)
  • Sharon Grierson (Newcastle – NSW)
  • Alan Griffin (Bruce)
  • Damian Hale (Solomon)
  • Jill Hall (Shortland)
  • Chris Hayes (Werriwa)
  • Julia Irwin (Fowler)
  • Sharryn Jackson (Hasluck)
  • Mike Kelly (Eden-Monaro)
  • Duncan Kerr (Denison)
  • Catherine King (Ballarat – VIC)
  • Kirsten Livermore (Capricornia)
  • Jenny Macklin (Jagajaga – VIC)
  • Richard Marles (Corio)
  • Robert McClelland (Barton)
  • Maxine McKew (Bennelong – NSW)
  • Bob McMullan (Fraser)
  • Daryl Melham (Banks)
  • John Murphy (Lowe)
  • Belinda Neal (Robertson)
  • Shayne Neumann (Blair)
  • Brendan O’Connor (Gorton)
  • Julie Owens (Parramatta – NSW)
  • Melissa Parke (Fremantle – WA)
  • Graham Perrett (Moreton)
  • Tanya Plibersek (Sydney – NSW)
  • Roger Price (Chifley)
  • Brett Raguse (Forde)
  • Kerry Rea (Bonner)
  • Bernie Ripoll (Oxley)
  • Amanda Rishworth (Kingston)
  • Nicola Roxon (Gellibrand)
  • Kevin Rudd (Griffith – QLD)
  • Janelle Saffin (Page)
  • Bill Shorten (Maribyrnong – VIC)
  • Sid Sidebottom (Braddon)
  • Stephen Smith (Perth – WA)
  • Warren Snowdon (Lingiari)
  • Jon Sullivan (Longman)
  • Wayne Swan (Lilley – QLD)
  • Mike Symon (Deakin)
  • Lindsay Tanner (Melbourne – VIC)
  • Craig Thomson (Dobell)
  • Kelvin Thomson (Wills – VIC)
  • Chris Trevor (Flynn)
  • Jim Turnour (Leichhardt)
  • Maria Vamvakinou (Calwell)
  • Tony Zappia (Makin)

Senators

Australian Capital Territory

  • Kate Lundy

New South Wales

  • Mark Arbib
  • Doug Cameron
  • John Faulkner
    • Elias Bizannes – Nothing Yet Scheduled
  • Michael Forshaw
  • Steve Hutchins
  • Ursula Stephens

Northern Territory

  • Trish Crossin

Queensland

  • Mark Furner
  • Joe Ludwig
  • Jan McLucas
  • Claire Moore

South Australia

  • Don Farrell
  • Annette Hurley
  • Anne McEwen
  • Penny Wong
  • Dana Wortley

Tasmania

  • Catryna Bilyk
  • Carol Brown
  • Kerry O’Brien
  • Helen Polley
  • Nick Sherry

Victoria

  • Kim Carr
  • Jacinta Collins
  • Stephen Conroy
  • David Feeney
  • Gavin Marshall

Western Australia

  • Mark Bishop
  • Chris Evans
  • Louise Pratt
  • Glenn Sterle

Credits

This was inspired by the work of Geoff McQueen and Matthew Landauer. Originally planned as a Google Document, but that doesn’t allow editing by everyone, so this blog post will have to do.

04 Jan 2009

Revisiting Internet Filter Action

So, a bit over a year ago, as we edged closer and closer to voting John Howard out of office, Rudd’s team make the stupid election promise of an internet filter. Exactly a year ago, in anger and frustration, I sent off a letter to Stephen Conroy, the then new Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.

Twelve months later, what have we learnt?

  • Conroy is slow to respond to letters.
  • Conroy isn’t particularly good at engaging in reasoned discourse.
  • Conroy is good at staying on message.
  • The internet filter is unlikely to be completely opt-out – there’ll just be two levels.
  • Question Time is a farce and lacking in intelligent discussion.
  • Those passionate about the issue have mobilised, with the EFA, GetUp, Steve Hopkins and Elias Bizannes amongst those leading the way.
  • Trials of internet filters have focused mainly on HTTP and HTTPS traffic. Not IM, peer-to-peer traffic, or newsgroups.
  • ISPs, including iiNet and Internode, are not fans of the proposed legislation
  • The Greens and Liberals aren’t supporting it either. Nick Xenephon seems to be on the fence, and unsurprisingly Stephen Fielding of Family First wants to add legal content to be blocked by the filter.
  • Conroy insists that our filter will be much like those in Sweden and Canada – yet both of those filters, according to the Government’s own feasibility study, are voluntary.
  • There is a live pilot underway.

We’ve had petitions, rallies, phone bombs, emails and letters. It doesn’t seem to be making a dint in Conroy’s plans. I think face-to-face meetings is the best way forward. If your local member is from the ALP, then meet with them. If they’re not, you will have a Senator who is. If you’re uncomfortable about going alone, find some other like-minded souls. A group may well have a larger impact.

If you’re in Melbourne, that’s where Stephen Conroy is based – I’d love to hear some feedback of anyone who has met with him. I’m currently overseas, so I haven’t got around to that yet – I’ve only managed to meet with my then-local member (I’ve since changed electorates), and it was pretty clear that I knew more about the issue than he did.

I’d also recommend not bothering with arguments relating to civil liberties, censorship or keeping legal access to pornography. While I don’t disagree that these are important and valid, it’s not going to win over anyone. Personally, I try to keep the message about how the filter isn’t going to work, just like past filters haven’t worked, and thus it’s a waste of money and time. You need to express understanding that the Government’s goal is laudable, but the approach isn’t. The ends does not justify the means.

Also have alternative plans to suggest – whether that’s recommending parents stay aware of what their children are doing online, an opt-in filter for those who want it, or something like the previous Government’s NetAlert software. (Although that wasn’t downloaded much at all – so is there really the demand for an internet filter?)

Online action is great, but it doesn’t have anything close to the effect that face-to-face communication does. If you really want to make a difference, get into those politicians’ offices.

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