Sunday, 8 February 2009

The Bowdlerised Internet

From Sociological Images, an advert for an ISP from 2005.

After complaints of this pandering to the extremist home-school Religious Right (as opposed to those who homeschool because many public schools are utter disasters), the official story was:-
Our advertisement was a tongue-in-cheek attempt to show the lengths some people will go to in order to protect their children from 'inappropriate' subject matter.
Not exactly obvious -in fact,that directly contradicts the part about "So will we...making it simpler". And dumbing it down.

The full story was described over at

From No Clean Feed on the Internet Censorship that the current Australian Government is committed to, as they owe favours to religious extremists:
Although the final details of the filtering plans have been kept under wraps, the Minister is on record as being firmly committed to a mandatory clean-feed internet to Australian homes, schools and public computers.
What do we know so far?

* Filtering will be mandatory in all homes and schools across the country.
* The clean feed will censor material that is "harmful and inappropriate" for children.
* The filter will require a massive expansion of the ACMA's blacklist of prohibited content.
* The Government wants to use dynamic filters of questionable accuracy that slow the internet down by an average of 30%.
* The filtering will target legal as well as illegal material.
* $44m has been budgeted for the implementation of this scheme so far.
* The clean-feed for children will be opt-out, but a second filter will be mandatory for all Internet users.
* A live pilot deployment is going ahead in the near future.

What we don't know is just as important.

* What age level is the country's Internet to be made appropriate for? 15? 10? 5 years old?
* Who decides what material is "appropriate" for Australians to see?
* How are lists of "illegal" material compiled?
* Who will maintain the blacklist of prohibited sites?
* How can sites mistakenly added to the list be removed?

All of us want to see children protected from content that could be disturbing or harmful. The clean-feed filter is not a good way to go about this, and could actually reduce the safety of children online.
The battle against wowserism, bowdlerisation and the legal enforcement of ignorance continues. Those who see Science as opposed to, rather than orthogonal to, their Religion are committed to suppress it. That includes Wowsers, but also the terminally politically correct on the Left, and Young Earth Creationists on the Right.


Nica said...

I understand that internet censorship is a gathering threat in Australia now, but I am also very worried about the more immediate threat to life and property faced by our brothers and sisters who live in Oz. My thoughts and prayers go with you. Here is a link to pictures of the danger sweeping across their land.

E said...

I can recall way back in the 1990s finding an email list called Transgen which probably stopped me from killing myself. Unfortunately, that sort of information is likely to be among the casualties of this ill considered proposal.

Sevesteen said...

I've seen bits and pieces of this, and I'm astounded that a country I consider...civilized and enlightened (not sure if that's exactly what I mean, but close enough) would allow this sort of censorship.